The Program: How Does the Atkins Diet Work?
PROTEIN: The More Variety, the Better
Beef and other meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy products are all good sources of protein, but they’re hardly the only ones. Nor are they the only ones you can eat on Atkins. Animal protein is considered a complete, or whole, protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids (those your body cannot make on its own). Many (but not all) plant sources have reduced levels of one or more of the nine essential amino acids, so they’re considered incomplete proteins. It can be challenging to satisfy most or all of your protein needs from plant sources when you’re on Atkins, but it’s perfectly possible. (See Atkins for Vegetarians
and Atkins for Vegans
Eat Your Favorite Foods
Obviously, the best diet for you is one composed of foods you love so feel free to focus on your favorite protein sources. You may be content to eat beef, chicken, dairy, and eggs and ignore most other protein sources. But the more varied your overall diet, the more likely you are to obtain the full range of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients your body needs for optimal health. And the more varied your sources of protein, the more apt you are to consume a balance of amino acids and the essential fats.
The More Fat, the More Filling
Protein sources with relatively more fat tend to be more filling, so you may feel full sooner after eating duck, for example, than a chicken breast. Because they’re lower in fat (except for tofu and nut butters), plant proteins also tend to be less filling, another reason to add healthy fats in cooking and to be keenly aware of the carb content of vegetable protein sources.
Our position has always been that when you control carb consumption, there’s no need to avoid fatty cuts of meat or trim the fat. However, if you prefer, feel free to use leaner cuts. Just be sure to serve them with a crumbling of blue cheese or compound butter or a salad dressing or some olive oil on vegetables in the same meal. It’s your choice.