Thursday, September 29, 2011

Overcoming plateaus on the Atkins diet

If you are experiencing a stall or plateau in your Atkins weight loss efforts, you are not alone. This occurs from time to time. However, you first must make sure that you have actually reached a plateau point.
A plateau means that you have gone an extended period of time without losing weight or inches. It’s important to take your measurements before you start your weight loss plan, in addition to your weight. On some weeks it may not seem like you are losing any at all on the scale. But a quick look at your measurements will prove otherwise.
On the Atkins diet you are replacing fat with muscle, which is denser and heavier. You might actually gain a little weight because you are building muscle to replace your fat. The result will be an increase on the scale, but a decrease in your inches. Your body will be smaller and leaner, but you may weigh the same.
Before you start your program, measure your chest, waist, hips, upper arms, thighs and calves. You never know where you may be losing inches, so it’s important to have these comprehensive measurements to refer to. It is normal to go through periods where you body is readjusting. Remember that you are reforming the composition of your body and this process will take some time. Check your measurements once a week, just like your weight, and you can track your overall progress.
There may be periods of 3 to 4 weeks where you have a stall in weight loss, but a loss in inches. Or vice versa. Using both methods to track your fat loss is the best assurance for an accurate measure of your progress. These stall periods are not a reason to quit or to give up. They are natural parts of the weight loss process.
Stalls may occur more frequently if you are 5 to 10 pounds away from being at your goal weight. By following a low-carb, high-protein way of eating you have created a lot more muscle in your body. Your muscle-to-fat ratio is higher than ever before, so your body might be resisting losing anymore fat. It may be time to rethink your goal weight. Perhaps your body is trying to tell you something and its time to start maintaining your weight loss rather than trying to lose more.
There are some other possible causes of stalls and plateaus on the road to weight loss. If you’ve gone four weeks with no change in weight or measurements and you are nowhere near your goal weight, you can try a few different methods to get yourself out of the rut. First, make sure your carbohydrate level is in check. If you are eating too many carbohydrate grams per day, your weight loss will stall. Look for hidden carbohydrates in packaged foods, dressings and sauces to make sure they aren’t the culprits in your plateau.
Check your daily water intake. When you are dehydrated, your body will retain water and that can mimic a plateau. Water will also help flush ketones from your system and make more room for new fat burning ketones.
Undereating can also be a cause for weight loss plateaus. Make sure not to let yourself go hungry and eat smaller, more frequent meals. Remember, you are on a carbohydrate-restricted diet, not a calorie-restricted diet. Make sure to have some protein with every meal and snack. Never go more than 5 hours without eating something (except overnight of course). Also, eat freely from the acceptable foods. Don’t try to count calories or restrict your calorie intake. When your body gets too few calories, it goes into starvation mode and will hold onto fat cells.
Increasing your exercise level can help get you through a plateau as well. As your muscles get used to working out at a certain level, you’ll have to increase the duration or the intensity in order to keep challenging your body. Add a new exercise into the mix, or try increasing weight in resistance training.
Trying one of these methods will most likely get your weight loss back on track. Remember that occasional stalls are normal, but they do not have to last.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Atkins cost saving tips

The Atkins diet has a lot of health benefits, but it is not exactly easy on the wallet. Fresh meats are some of the most expensive items in the grocery store and when you follow Atkins, you’ll need to purchase a lot of them. However, there are simple steps that you can take to cut costs on this low-carb plan.
First of all, be creative in your meal planning. Remember that most diet books and written to entice readers to try new combinations of foods. The recipes within those books contain the most expensive ingredients. You don’t have to cook like a professional chef in order to be able to experience the benefits of the Atkins diet. There are many simple recipes that you can make that are within the plan and cost much less than the ones shown in the diet books. If you modify the meal plans with the books, you can enjoy the low carb lifestyle on a budget.
One of the most important steps to take is to buy your meats in bulk. When you stock up on large packages of ground beef, chicken and fish you cut down on your protein costs. You can separate the large packages into small freezer bags and freeze them in meal-sized portions. Two to four chicken breasts in a bag are easy to defrost and make a good-sized meal. You can also cook ground beef in many different varieties and freeze the cooked portions. Try doing a portion of the meat with taco spices, another portion with hamburger spices and the third portion with Italian spices. That way you’ll be able to use lots of hamburger meat and still have variety in your diet.
Also, look at less tender cuts of meat to trim costs in your grocery money. While fillet mignon may be tasty, it doesn’t fit into every budget. Less tender cuts of beef and pork make excellent crock-pot meals, and using a slow cooker will help tenderize them.
Look to alternative protein sources like eggs and tofu. Both of these items pack a powerful protein punch for a fraction of the cost of meats. Nuts are a great protein source as well, but they can become expensive very quickly. Some recipes call for expensive macadamia nuts and cashews. Walnuts, peanuts and almonds contain just as much protein for a fraction of the cost.
Mixed vegetable salads will make a large portion of your daily Atkins meals. While it may be tempting to buy bagged salad that is already chopped, you are going to be paying $2 to $3 per bag. You can buy three heads of different types of lettuce for the same cost and make the equivalent of six bags of prepackaged salad. Also, consider investing in a salad spinner. This handy device will make homemade salads crispy and satisfying.
Be creative with your menus and use produce and meats that are on sale. If you’ve got a recipe that calls for chicken breasts and turkey happens to be on sale, go ahead and substitute this week. Make sure to carry an acceptable food list with you the grocery store so you can tell whether a sale food is an okay substitution on the Atkins plan.
When you go to the store, you can also cut costs by limiting your purchase of low-carb packaged foods. These items are really expensive, and sometimes full of harmful chemicals. They may also contain hidden carbs which can stall your weight loss efforts. The Atkins plan can be effectively followed without using any of these products. Unless it’s a special occasion, skip them all together.
Finally, its best to plan your meals and your shopping trips so you can buy your groceries in an effective manner. Going to the grocery store unprepared or, even worse, hungry can spell disaster for your budget. Plan each week’s menu out ahead and time and then buy what you need to make those meals.