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colette_heimowitz's Blog

I could not be a stronger defender of Atkins—it is a science-driven nutritional plan that works. I’ve seen the results first-hand. What I like even better about Atkins is its continual evolution, based on new science and the needs of all of you who are following the diet. Our goal has always been to help people lose weight safely and effectively, while teaching them how to eat for life. Which is why I’m very excited to announce the introduction of a new, flexible component of Atkins: Atkins 40.

Before you start worrying that Atkins is changing, I want you to realize that we are simply offering another option, with more flexibility and more food choices. On Atkins 40, you begin with 40 grams of Net Carbs a day and move up progressively from there as you get closer to your goal weight. Atkins 40 is backed by 31 scientific studies, which demonstrate that most people can begin to burn fat for fuel with 40 grams of Net Carbs per day. In a nutshell (and yes, you can eat nuts from day one on Atkins 40!), Atkins 40 helps you make a variety of food choices from a selection of vegetables, nuts/seeds, a variety of fruits, whole grains, legumes, as well as dairy, including whole Greek yogurt and soft cheeses. Atkins 40 also focuses on portion control, and emphasizes nutrient-dense carbohydrates. Added sugars are still a no-no.

The classic Atkins approach has been renamed Atkins 20—there are no changes. It’s the same four-Phase program starting with Induction at 20 grams of Net Carbs per day. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose (more than 40 pounds) or are pre-diabetic or diabetic, most likely you should start Atkins at Phase 1 (Atkins 20). If you have 40 pounds of weight or less to lose, Atkins 40 may the way to go. So you can choose the approach that will work best for you.

Here’s the scoop on Atkins 40:

Each day you have:

• Approximately 15 grams of Net Carbs that come from high-fiber Foundation Vegetables
• Remaining 25 grams of Net Carbs can be chosen freely from the expanded acceptable foods list (Greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, whole grains and legumes)
• 3 servings of protein. 4 to 6-oz. per serving
• 3 servings of added fats (salad dressing, mayo, butter, etc.)
• 6 to 8 glasses of water
• A daily multi-vitamin

In the coming weeks, I will be talking even more about Atkins 40, and you will see some exciting changes on in the next few days. I look forward to your feedback!

Are you wracking your brain for great gift ideas for your friends and family? Here’s a list of health-oriented, low-carb-friendly stocking stuffers for almost anyone in your life.

Go for gadgets. Fitness trackers from Fitbit and Jawbone can track daily steps, sleep habits and heart rate. Perfect for the active person in your life.
Get cooking. My cookbook, The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook, features 200 delicious low-carb recipes that can be made in 30 minutes of less.

There’s an app for that. Download the free Atkins mobile app for your friends and family. The app will help them plan meals, count carbs, track progress and pick low-carb meal options when eating out.

The gift of water. Portable water bottles make great stocking stuffers.

Music to your ears. A pair of earbuds makes music easy to listen to.

More music. An iTunes gift card lets your friends and family download the latest tunes to motivate them doing exercise sessions and apps that may help them track their fitness and more.

Pack it up. Tupperware and cooler lunch bags let your friends and family pack and transport plenty of low-carb meals and snacks, making it easy to stay on track with Atkins.

Treat a sweet tooth. Atkins Endulge… these chocolate candies, milk chocolate squares, peanut butter cups and more are acceptable on all Phases, and they will make any stocking a little sweeter.

Exercise tools. Portable resistance bands or workout DVDs means your gift recipients can squeeze a workout in anywhere.
Cooking tools. There are plenty of fun gadgets that make low-carb cooking a breeze, including kitchen scales, blenders and spirulizers (for making low-carb vegetable “noodles” for pasta dishes).

New research shows that a diet high in carbs may increase your risk for diabetes and heart disease, not a diet high in fat. In fact, even doubling or almost tripling levels of dietary saturated fat did not increase total levels of saturated fat in the blood, according to a controlled diet study just published in the journal PLOS.

Senior author, Jeff Volek, a professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University, concludes that this study challenges the theory that dietary saturated fat is bad or a contributor to heart disease. With that being said, there is an association between saturated fat in the blood and heart disease.

During the study, participants were put on six three-week diets that progressively increased carbs while simultaneously reducing total fat and saturated fat, keeping calories and protein the same. Researchers discovered that as the levels of carbohydrates increased, it caused a steady rise in blood levels of a fatty acid (palmitoleic acid) known to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. When palmitoleic acid increases, it is a signal that an increasing proportion of carbs are being converted to fat instead of being burned as fuel.

This study shows that the level of carbohydrates you consume may be the primary regulator in terms of how you use saturated fat—whether it is burned for fuel or stored as fat. And your personal carb tolerance (which varies for everyone) helps determine this level. When more than half of Americans show some type of carb tolerance, it makes more sense to choose a diet that controls carbohydrates instead of restricting fat.

This study not only supports the reasoning behind why the Atkins Diet works, but it has also found a biomarker (palmitoleic acid) that can indicate when your body starts to convert carbs to fat, an event that Volek says contributes to “metabolic mayhem.”

Why let “metabolic mayhem” wreak its havoc on your waistline and health, when all you have to do is follow the Atkins Diet?

Following Atkins? Who said you need to feel deprived on Thanksgiving? I’ve got delicious low-carb Thanksgiving recipes for every Phase, plus a sample meal plan, to help you thoroughly enjoy this holiday without guilt. I guarantee you won’t even miss the extra carbs.

Begin your day with some tasty appetizer options that will please your palate.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Net carbs: 1 gram
All Phases


24 large, fresh mushrooms (1 pound)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound Italian sausage, remove from casings
4 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 ½ ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons), divided
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


1. Heat oven to 400F. Remove stems from mushrooms; finely chop enough stems to equal 1/2 cup (reserve the rest for another use). Place mushroom caps in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Arrange caps, gills up, on a shallow baking pan.
2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add sausage, scallions, garlic, Italian seasoning, and chopped mushroom stems. Cook, stirring and breaking sausage into smaller pieces until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese; stir just until cheeses melt.
3. Stuff mushroom caps with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons mozzarella. Bake until cheese has melted and mushrooms are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Other appetizer options include wrapping steaming asparagus with prosciutto, rolling thin slices of zucchini with goat cheese, kabobs of shrimp and bacon or an antipasti platter.

First Course
This colorful, creamy soup is a festive first course.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Net carbs: 5.2 grams
All Phases

 2 Tablespoons olive oil
 2 celery stalks, chopped
 1 small onion, chopped
 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
 12 ounces roasted red peppers, chopped (about 4 peppers)
 29 ounces chicken broth
 7 ounces water
 2/3 Cup heavy cream
 1/4 Cup grated Parmesan


1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add celery, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add roasted peppers and stock. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Purée soup in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth.
4. Return soup to saucepan; stir in cream. Heat gently.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.

Other first course options include any type of salad (mix it up with kale, chard, romaine or spinach), topped with fresh veggies and drizzled with homemade dressing.
If you think Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a pile of mashed potatoes, you must try mashed cauliflower.

Cauliflower-Sour Cream Mash
Net carbs: 4.5
All Phases

 8 cups cauliflower florets (or 1 head cauliflower, trimmed)
 2 Tablespoons sour cream
 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1.5 Tablespoon butter
 1 teaspoon salt


1. Add a cup of water to a large pot and insert a steamer basket. Place cauliflower florets in the basket and bring water to a boil over high heat. Cover tightly, cook until tender, 10–12 minutes, and drain.
2. Purée cauliflower in a food processor, adding florets in batches.
3. Add sour cream, heavy cream, butter and salt; process until smooth and well combined. Reheat gently, if necessary, before serving.

There are many other options, including sides as simple as roasting or steaming Brussels sprouts, sautéing in butter, drizzling with lemon and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Main Course
The savory star of the show is naturally low in carbs.

Savory Turkey with Gravy
Net Carbs: 1.3 grams
All Phases


   10-pound whole turkey, trimmed of fat, giblets removed
   1 1/2 cups kosher salt
   1/4 cup granular sugar substitute (sucralose)
   1 carrot, roughly chopped
   1 celery rib, roughly chopped
   1 medium onion, roughly chopped
   4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
   1 Tablespoon Thick-It-Up
   14 1/2 ounces chicken broth
   1/4 cup water


1. Submerge turkey breast-down in a tub containing 1 1/2 gallons water mixed with 1 1/2 cups coarse (kosher) salt and 6 packets sugar substitute. Refrigerate 6 hours.
2. Discard brine and pat turkey dry. Heat oven to 400°F.
3. Place half of the vegetables in turkey cavity; scatter remaining vegetables on bottom of a roasting pan.
4. Tie legs together with cotton twine. Arrange bird breast down on rack in pan. Pour 1 cup water into pan. Roast turkey 45 minutes.
5. Baste turkey with pan juices. Lower oven temperature to 375°F; roast for 1 1/2 hours more, basting every 30 minutes, (add an extra 1/2 cup water to pan if necessary).
6. Carefully turn turkey over with oven mitts, so it is breast side up. Brush breast with butter. Roast an additional 30 minutes. Turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the inner thigh reads 175°F.
7. Transfer turkey to a large carving board with a trench to catch juices. Remove all vegetables and discard. Cover loosely with foil. Let rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. While turkey is resting; prepare gravy: Pour excess fat from roasting pan.
8. Place pan on oven burner on medium. Stir in thickener, until dissolved. Pour in chicken broth and water; bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Cook 2-3 minutes

Main course options are plentiful and low-carb, including ham, roast beef, prime rib and more!

Even on Atkins, you can indulge in a delicious grand finale.

Crustless Ginger Cheesecake with Lime-Sour Cream Topping
Net carbs: 4 grams
Phases 2, 3, 4


 20 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
 ⅓ cup granular sugar substitute
 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 1 teaspoon ground ginger
 3 large eggs
 3 large egg yolks
 1 ¼ cup sour cream
 2 tablespoon granular sugar substitute
 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch spring form pan with parchment or wax paper. Wrap the outside of the pan tightly with aluminum foil.
2. For the cheesecake, combine the cream cheese, sugar substitute, vanilla and ginger in a bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs and egg yolks, beating on low speed until combined. Transfer to a spring form pan. Set the spring form pan into a roasting pan; carefully pour in hot water to reach 1 inch up the side of the spring form pan. Bake until just set in the center, about 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, for the topping: combine the sour cream, sugar substitute and lime zest in a bowl; set aside.
4. When the cheesecake is just set, spread the sour cream mixture evenly on top.
5. Bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1½ hours before serving.

You can find many more delicious dessert options in our Recipes section.

You can truly give thanks to Atkins when you have a low-carb feast like this. Happy Thanksgiving!

A new study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal, questions whether diets are actually effective in helping people lose weight, keep it off and decrease risk factors for heart disease. After analyzing clinical trials on four popular diets—Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers and Zone—the study found that these diets helped people lose a modest amount of weight over a year (they lost the most on Atkins—up to 10.3 pounds), there was no marked difference between each diet in improvement in cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels or other cardiovascular risk factors. And people did gain back some weight over time.

The researchers conclude that more long-term studies need to be done on diets, and that diets may not be the solution that doctors should recommend to help their patients lose weight and decrease their cardiovascular disease risk factors. What??? Before you throw Atkins to the curb, pick up the phone and order a pizza with a side of cheesy breadsticks, lets look at the facts.

I agree that more long-term, well-constructed trials need to be done on all diets; I don’t agree that “diets don’t work”, as the researchers in this study seem to conclude. This does a disservice to the millions of people struggling with overweight and obesity and the health consequences associated with obesity. Diets do work. The key is finding a diet that you can sustain for the long term while learning the skills of weight loss maintenance. And for many of you, who have lost weight (or are continuing to lose weight), and/or are maintaining your weight loss while enjoying a new and satisfying way of eating that you can live with, the Atkins Diet is the answer. You may have tried many other diets in the past, and as soon as you returned to your old way of eating, of course you gained back the weight.
The benefits of the Atkins Diet are long-standing and consistent. Atkins is backed by an extensive body of research including more than 80 peer-reviewed, clinical, independent studies—and some are long-term studies ranging from 1 year to 3 years. These show that a low-carb meal plan like Atkins can help people lose weight while improving cardiovascular and metabolic health markers.

Most recently, studies are showing that when compared with a baseline diet or other diet plan, the Atkins Diet is, in fact, shown to be associated with significant improvements in body weight, BMI, abdominal circumference; markers of cardiovascular health including: systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, plasma triglycerides, plasma CRP (an inflammation marker), and HDL-cholesterol (LDL cholesterol did not change significantly); and markers of metabolic disease: fasting plasma glucose, glycated hemoglobin, plasma insulin.

All this research aside, a controlled-carb diet like Atkins may be the key to quick, effective and satisfying weight loss. Atkins allows you progressively add carbs in small increments from all of food groups, step-wise, until you identify your own personal carbohydrate tolerance—the point at which you can maintain your weight loss.
As you add back variety in your diet, you learn to make smarter choices about carbohydrates, including high-fiber produce and whole grains, which allows you to consume more carbs without exceeding your personal carb tolerance.
Maybe I should rephrase my statement that diets do work. Diets, when used as a short-term quick fix, don’t work.

But when you change your way of eating, and your way of thinking about eating, a low-carb plan like Atkins, with its abundance of vegetables, healthy fat, lean protein and high-fiber carbs, can become a lifestyle and a sustainable way losing and maintaining your weight loss.

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