The number of diets available on the market today can make your head spin.
Honestly, there are literally thousands of diets that have been created and marketed with all sorts of funky names – think Bondi Beach diet, Cabbage Soup diet & such celebrity fads.
Each one of these claims to scream effective, yet few are truly healthy and fewer still offer sustainable, long term weight loss and knock-on positive effects.
Two weight loss-cum0 lifestyle diets that seem to have attracted a fair amount of comparison are the Atkins diet and the Paleo Diet , and I am compelled to put my word out there as I have some experience with both, and have done a fair bit of research over the last couple of years.
The Atkins Diet, The Paleo Diet & The Comparison
The Atkins Diet has four main phases – induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance and lifetime maintenance. The first phase lasts for 14 days and is considered to be the strictest in terms of the foods that are allowed.
Phase 2 continues until you reach the weight loss goal you’ve set. The maintenance phases are apparently designed to help dieters stay fit for life; but in general the diet is known for its temporary rather than sustainable effect – indeed my wife managed lost 10 lbs in 2 months to fit into her wedding dress but put it on again quickly post the wedding.
Like paleo the Atkins diet limits the consumption of carbohydrates but allows grains in small amounts; it also limits legumes and encourages high consumption of protein and fats.
The Paleo Diet is often called the caveman’s diet or the hunter gatherer’s diet since it is based on what our ancestors used to eat before the agricultural revolution started and wheat and dairy became staple features of the human diet.
The diet, therefore, restricts consumption of processed carbohydrates instead recommending specific kinds of meat and fat that promote a healthy gut and sustained health.
Paleo eaters are encouraged to eat fruit and increased vegetables to make up for the carbs usually gained from grains. Under paleo, processed sugars (HFCS and others) and preservatives and big no-nos, as are starchy veg such as potatoes (sweet and yams are fine) and legumes.
While the Atkins Diet spans over phases, the Paleo Diet has a single recommendation that needs to be adapted to for life. The latter is considered an ongoing way of food consumption that you need to adopt.
Is Atkins For The Long Term?
I have read plenty of articles that state the efficiency of the Atkins Diet. And indeed there seems to be no debate among researchers that removal of carbs from the diet makes the body burn the available fat in the system.
However, in the long term, removing all carbs can lead to nutrient deficiencies as good fats are also removed from the diet.
The diet says nothing against the practice of frying vegetables in saturated fats either, something known to increase heart related problems later in life; not to mention that such cooking deprives the body of anti-oxidants as the frying depletes the nutritional value of the vegetables.
Benefits Of The Paleo Diet
I definitely feel that the Atkins Diet is far easier to follow since it allows cheese in phase 1 and heavy dairy in phase 2, unlike Paleo which rules out any heavily processed foods considered alien to the human digestive system.
Atkins also allows for saturated fat intake. The Paleo Diet is comprehensive in that it recommends the kind of meat that you should consume. It is expected to be grass fed, hormone-less and free range meat. And trust me it isn’t always practical to obtain such meat in today’s processed world!
The Atkins Diet may be easier to follow, but I have never been the type of person to take the easy way out. There is a large amount of research and science behind the Paleo Diet and, if followed correctly, the diet can bring significant positive change to your life. Here are just a few of the cited benefits:
- Significant reduction in any kind of gut related issues.
- Allows for satiety and does not starve.
- Proven effective in sustainable weight loss.
- Reduces risk of cancer, coronary diseases, diabetes and many other modern day ailments caused due to excessive abuse of the body.
- Better skin appearance.
- More energy.
- Better sleep.
Every diet has its pros and cons. Atkins will serve you well if you want to lose weight quickly in the short run. But if you really want to adopt a lifestyle change that will make you healthier, fitter and also slimmer, Paleo is the way to go!
Paleo has worked well for me, and even though I don’t always stick to it 100%, it definitely improved my overall health and wellbeing. After that rundown you might be wondering what you can eat on the paleo diet; well believe me, there’s plenty and then some.
Click here to read my review of the Paleo Cookbooks I bought when I first began cooking like a caveman.