An Introduction to the Atkins Diet

low carb diet plansThe Atkins diet is the forefather of low-carb diets, created in 1972. It has formed the basis of all other low-carb diets, such as the Paleo diet, and other low carb diet plans covered elsewhere on this site.

The basic concept behind the Atkins diet is that by controlling your carb intake, you can more effectively burn fat. This manifests itself in a few stages: the first stage of the diet severely limits carbs, cutting out fruits and starchier vegetables. If you eat a lot of carbs, your blood sugar will spike and your body will produce insulin, which will cause your body to stop burning fat, increasing fat storage overall. By reducing your carb intake, your body will be forced to burn fat for energy (the carbs simply won’t be there!) and you’ll see weight loss.

As with any diet, it’s important to think of this as a lifestyle change instead of just a phase in your life. Embrace eating lots of proteins and fats and ditching the carbs as a permanent change, not just a temporary one.

The Atkins diet doesn’t require you to count calories in order to be effective (thank goodness!), but it does require that you count carbs, which makes sense considering that’s the thing you want to restrict the most. The progressive phases give you a certain amount of carbs allowed in a day, with the least amount allowed in the first phase. Don’t forget about fiber, though! Atkins has you measure net carbs by taking the total carbs on a food item and subtracting the fiber. For example, if you’re eating a granola bar that has 20g of carbs and 9g of fiber, your net carbs will be 11g. Fiber is an important part of your diet and not getting enough could result in a few unpleasant side effects, so it’s advised that the carbs you do allow and end up eating in your day provide you with 25-30g of dietary fiber. One of my favorite solutions to the fiber problem is artichokes. You just cook up the artichoke (directions here) and eat with a generous amount of melted butter. The butter introduces some fat to the snack and an average sized artichoke provides you with 13g of carbohydrates and 7g of dietary fiber for a net carb total of 6g; phase one allows you an average of 20g of net carbs a day, so devoting 6g to an artichoke isn’t too bad (and again, it gives you the fiber that you really need to keep an eye out for).

Having trouble with the idea that you’ll need to ditch bread? It can be intimidating to cut out an entire food group, but it’s a change that will benefit you in the long run. Carbohydrates only leave the body feeling full for a short amount of time. Ever notice that eating a piece of toast for breakfast or a bowl of cereal doesn’t leave you very satisfied for long? Eating meals that load up on fats and proteins will help you feel fuller, longer, further helping with your weight loss plan.

It’s tough to go against the diet you’ve been raised on, which for most is a low-fat diet. Unfortunately, we’ve been educated poorly about how to eat and that is responsible for the high obesity and diabetes rates we see throughout the country today. The Atkins Nutritional Approach does seek to move us away from the standard diet, in a way that can be a bit scary at first, but in a way that seeks to make our bodies healthier. Some compelling statistics about just how bad our current diet is can be found here.

If you can overcome the first few difficult weeks of completely overhauling your diet, your body will thank you.

What is Plantar Fasciitis

One of the most common causes of heel pain, Plantar Fasciitis is a condition where the ligament Plantar Fascia is inflamed, weak or swollen.  It is a thin ligament that connects the heel bone to toes, with its main function being supporting the arch of the foot. With excessive and continuous strain, the ligament can be strained resulting in tiny tears. This then leads to pain and swelling.

It is common with individuals who are middle aged, though it can appear earlier. In most cases, only one foot is affected, though both feet can be affected. In some cases, Plantar Fasciitis fades away with time and treatment just helps with faster healing.  For most, treatment can help ease the pain and recuperate faster. It is a common condition and according to an estimate, 1 in every ten people might have had Plantar Fasciitis at some point.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is more common in the following individuals:

  • Individuals who walk or stand for long hours on hard surfaces
  • Athletes (long distance runners) and Joggers
  • Individuals who are overweight, or obese
  • Individuals who have an improper walking style, thus straining their ligament
  • Individuals with flat heels or high arch
  • Foot injuries
  • Individuals who have tight calf muscles and or Achilles tendon
  • Individuals who wear shoes that aren’t of right size (smaller) or is worn out

Symptoms

The most common symptom is pain immediately after getting out of bed or when affected individuals take their first few steps after being idle for quite some time, with increasing pain through the day.  The pain is especially more when climbing stairs or after standing for long durations. However, there’s no pain at night.

Diagnosis

Doctors suggest an X-Ray to rule out other conditions, though they typically conclude based on the individuals medical history, symptoms, walking style, etc.  They determine based on the time of pain, intensity and their ability to get involved in physical activity.

An ultrasound scan of the Fascia can reveal inflammation to the ligament and aids with correct diagnosis, though most doctors judge based on the symptoms. In rare cases, MRI, bone scans or vascular testing is suggested.

Treatment Options

There’s no specific treatment that will work for Plantar Fasciitis, though a combination of different methods can help with the pain. Generally, applying ice-pack and resting the injured foot can help.

Exercises like towel stretches, toe stretches and calf stretches are said to help and suggested to be done several times during the day.

Other lifestyle changes like getting shoes of the right size, or changing to a more suitable shoes, wearing shoe inserts or heel cups, are also suggested.

Pain killers are also suggested for those with unbearable pain, or intense pain.

Doctors suggest splints, arch supports or specific orthotics to reduce pain and eliminate stiffness. Boot cast is suggested for aiding with healing.

In rare cases where the pain is disabling or excruciating, steroids or surgery is advised.

Complications

In most cases, complications are rare and with treatment, reduction in pain and healing is possible. In some cases, ignoring the pain or treatment can trigger complications especially since their walking style can change and cause injury to knees, back or hips. Timely treatment and medical attention is ideal. Just like in any other medical condition, treatment can be found for plantar fasciitis ottawa and healing can begin.

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