Cream Cheese on the Atkins Diet

Crispbread
A cracker with cream cheese and chives. (Image: grafvision/iStock/Getty Images)

Dr. Robert C. Atkins popularized the low-carb approach for weight loss and improved health with his first book, published in 1972. Since then, the Atkins diet has been gaining in popularity. Many studies have investigated its effects, one of them showing that participants following an Atkins-style diet could lose as much as 20.7 lbs. in 24 weeks, compared to only 10.6 lbs. in the low-fat diet group, as reported in 2004 in the "Annals of Internal Medicine."

Atkins Diet Principles

Divided into four phases, the Atkins diet focuses on the consumption of non-starchy, high-fiber vegetables, such as leafy greens, cucumber, celery, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, onion and tomatoes, which should be accompanied with a good source of protein at each meal, whether it comes from chicken, pork, fish, meat, eggs or cheese. Meals should also include generous servings of fats from olive oil, canola oil, butter, cream and mayonnaise. The progression of the four different phases allow a gradually higher consumption of carbohydrates, depending on individual tolerance, as the weeks go by.

Regular Cream Cheese

Two tablespoons of regular cream cheese provide 99 calories, 9.9 g fat, 1.7 g protein, 1.2 g carbohydrates and 0 g fiber, for a total of 1.2 g of net carbs per serving. Net carbs correspond to the amount of utilizable carbohydrates once the fiber have been removed from the total carbohydrates. The Atkins eating plan recommends counting net carbs instead of total carbohydrates.

Low Fat Cream Cheese

Two tablespoons of low-fat cream cheese contains 60 calories, 4.6 g fat, 2.4 g protein, 2.4 g carbohydrates and 0 g fiber, for a total of 2.4 g of net carbs per serving. The same serving of fat-free cream cheese provides 32 calories, 0.3 g fat, 4.7 g protein, 2.3 g carbohydrates and 0 g fiber, which corresponds to a total of 2.3 g of net carbs. Cream cheeses that are lower in fat have about double the amount of net carbs per serving.

Ideas

Regular cream cheese fits very well in the Atkins eating plan and it appears on the acceptable foods list for all phases of the diet and can be part of the 3 to 4 oz. of cheese allowed per day. Low-fat or non-fat cream cheese should be avoided. You can fill a celery stick with cream cheese for a quick and satisfying snack or add a few drops of cream cheese to your morning omelet just before it sets completely. Another option is to spread smoked salmon with cream cheese. You can also add slices of cucumber or avocado and roll them. These smoked salmon rolls are great for breakfast, snacks or lunch.

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