Old Atkins allowed you as much protein as you could eat. New Atkins recommends 4-6 oz with each meal (8 oz for tall men), which is within healthy recommended amounts.
Vegetables are allowed from day one - so much so that even vegetarians and vegans can follow this version of the diet.
Berries, nuts and legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils) and alcohol can be re-introduced after two weeks, and once you get within 10lb of your goal weight, wholegrains (bread, rice, even pasta) are back on the menu.
Coffee, once banned, is positively encouraged on the back of research which shows moderate caffeine intake boosts long-term health (it contains several antioxidants) and its fat-burning properties mean it may help with the regulation of body weight.
COMBAT ATKINS 'FLU'
In the first few weeks on Atkins, many dieters suffer with headaches, dizziness, weakness, fatigue and constipation.
Although some blame caffeine withdrawal (no longer necessary as coffee and diet drinks are permitted on New Atkins), these symptoms are also caused by the dramatic shift in fluid, and therefore salt, caused by the low-carb diet.
This can be countered by drinking lots of water and keeping salt intake up (New Atkins recommends at least half a teaspoon of salt a day or 2tbsp of soy sauce).
If symptoms persist, try temporarily increasing carbohydrates a little by adding more vegetables, nuts or seeds to the diet, cutting back again when you feel better.
Furthermore, the new diet introduces a merciful element of choice and its basic principles are easily customised to suit your individual metabolism, goals or time frame.
Anyone with less than a stone to lose, for instance, has the option of skipping the fast-track-first phase and kicking off their diet with a wider choice of dietary options.
But if you've spent years yo-yo dieting, you are over-50, or your body has an in-built resistance to weight loss, you are encouraged to spend as long on the first phase as you think you need.
And when you reach your target weight you can ease into an individually tailored maintenance plan that allows you to gauge your reactions to certain carbohydrates and adjust your long-term eating habits accordingly.
The key to success on the new Atkins is keeping a close eye on your daily intake of what the authors call 'net carbs' (also called digestible carbs or impact carbs).
On old Atkins you were expected to add up the total grams of carbohydrate you consumed in a day, keeping it under 20g (which is very low indeed).
New Atkins thinks in terms of 'net carbs', which you calculate by taking total carbs (in grams) minus fibre (in grams).
The idea is that because fibre is indigestible and so doesn't impact your blood sugar levels you can subtract the number of grams of dietary fibre from the total number of carbohydrate grams in any food, to find its true net carb value.
Cooked green beans, for example, may contain 4.9g of carbohydrate per half cup, but 2g of that is fibre, so the net carbohydrate value is 2.9g. Lettuce is 1.4g of carbohydrate per cup, but more than half of that (1g) is fibre.
The result is you can eat more carbohydrates on new Atkins, increase your intake of healthy foods, and still lose weight.
On the Atkins diet you just have to get used to life without the following:
- Fruit juice and sweetened fizzy drinks.
- Foods made with flour and/or sugar including white bread, pasta, pastries, biscuits, cakes and sweets.
- Food with any sugar.
- Low fat or diet foods (usually high in carbs!).
- Junk food.
- Chewing gum, breath mints, cough syrups which may contain sugar.
- Foods with added trans fats.
As your weight drops and you progress through the diet plan, you are encouraged to slowly re-introduce carbohydrates - in a specific order, one carbohydrate source at a time - to a maximum of 95g of net carbs per day, without gaining weight.
The beauty of this is that if any food triggers cravings, causes a tummy upset or interferes with weight loss success, it can be easily identified and then avoided.
The idea is to start with the foods you should be eating most often, and build to the foods you will be able to enjoy occasionally, depending on your individual tolerance for carbohydrates, in this order:
- Leafy greens and low-carb vegetables.
- Dairy foods high in fat and low in carbs (cream, sour cream, hard cheese).
- Nuts and seeds (not chestnuts).
- Berries, cherries, melon (not watermelon).
- Whole milk yogurt, cottage cheese and ricotta.
- Legumes (chickpeas, lentils etc).
- Tomato and vegetable juice.
- Fruit (not dried or juice), higher-carb vegetables (squash, carrots, peas).
- Whole grains (brown rice, wholemeal pasta and bread).
Carb-counting: Order a bowl of olives instead of reaching for the bread basket
NOW EATING OUT ISN'T A CHORE
One of the greatest complaints about old Atkins was dealing with restaurants and eating out. New Atkins is easier.
As long as you steer clear of refined carbohydrates in the form of white bread, white rice, anything thickened or coated in flour, deep-fried or breaded, there is a wealth of choice.
Be on guard for hidden carbohydrates: gravy is usually thickened with flour, sugar lurks in salad dressings and may even appear in coleslaw and other deli salads.
Even smaller restaurants often post their menus online, so try to decide what you're going to order before you arrive to avoid being tempted to try less suitable dishes. Select simple grilled or roasted meats or fish but avoid stews, which may contain potatoes or other starchy vegetables.
Restaurants love repeat customers, so don't hesitate to ask what's in a dish. Then specify any changes you want such as salad dressings or sauces on the side. Make a habit of asking for an additional portion of vegetables or a side salad in lieu of potatoes.
Dessert options that are allowed:
CHOCOLATE PUDDING: Whip together 2tbsp of double cream, 1tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, with sweetener and a drop of vanilla essence.
Add 1tsp of instant coffee granules for a mocha twist.
Add 1tbsp of unsweetened shredded coconut.
RASPBERRY MOUSSE: Make up a pack of sugar-free jelly and allow to partially set in the fridge, whip a cup of double cream and blend into the jelly, return to fridge to set. Serves 4.
VANILLA FREEZE: Dissolve one scoop of lowcarb vanilla protein powder in a cup of unsweetened soya milk. Add a cup of crushed ice and stir. Add sweetener if desired.
ITALIAN: Ask for a bowl of olives instead of a bread basket, then chose antipasto, salads, and any chicken, veal (such as saltimbocca or scaloppini if not breaded, floured or battered), seafood or pork dish but without the pasta, rice or polenta.