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Atkins and Weight Loss Medications: Before, During and After

Colette-Heimowitz

Written by Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc. on January 5, 2024.

Scientifically reviewed by

Jonathan Clinthorne, PhD Human Nutrition

 

January 5, 2024

How Atkins can complement your journey with weight loss medications.

You’ve probably heard of semaglutide-containing and GLP-1 weight loss medications. They got the thumbs up from the FDA, and now everyone’s talking about them (or taking them). If you’re thinking about trying them, are already on them or maybe even stopped taking them, let’s talk about how a low carb plan like Atkins can provide the nutrition you need while shedding the pounds or maintaining the weight you’ve lost during your journey with weight loss medications.

What are Semaglutide and GLP-1 Weight Loss Medications?

Semaglutide mimics the effects of a hormone, GLP-1, produced when you eat and alerts your brain that you are full. It helps you feel less hungry and full faster, so you eat less. It also prompts your body to produce more insulin, which lowers blood sugar.

GLP-1 also helps control and lower blood sugar and decrease how much food you eat and is prescribed for adults with type-2 diabetes. Other weight loss medications contain tirzepatide, a single peptide that mimics GLP-1 and GIP (gastric inhibitory peptide).

Before You Start Weight Loss Medications

Set the stage for success by establishing healthy habits to maximize and maintain your weight goals before you get started. This is where a low carb diet comes in. Get into the habit of eating carbs in the form of fiber-rich vegetables, optimal amounts of protein and healthy fats before you start, and you’ll be in a better place to manage any side effects or optimize your results once you start on weight loss medications. It’s also a great opportunity to pump up your workouts. Cardio, whether walking, running, biking or hiking is nature’s sweat-inducing stress reliever, and strength-training exercise will help you maintain any muscle mass you might lose.

Atkins + Weight Loss Medications

While eating right and exercising are still the most effective and sustainable ways to lose weight and manage blood sugar levels, Atkins is a delicious science-based plan that provides everyday nutrition for anyone taking or discontinuing weight loss medications. For several reasons, Atkins and the free tools, recipes and meal plans that we offer can help you during this journey.

How Atkins Works When Taking Weight Loss Medications: Every Bite Counts

Many people have experienced positive results from taking weight loss medications. Still, side effects are possible for about 40% of people, including nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, constipation, heartburn, loss of appetite and cravings and an aversion to foods. A sagging face is also an anecdotal side effect of rapid weight loss.  

You may not be as hungry or craving the food you used to or think you need a particular diet while taking a weight loss medication. But this is not about eating less pizza than you used to because you no longer crave it. This is about finding a sustainable way of eating for your overall health and long-term weight management. Now more than ever, optimizing your nutrition is key because every bite counts.

The optimal amounts of protein, healthy fats and fiber-rich vegetables you eat on Atkins give you the nutrition you need. Here’s why:

  1. Protein can help prevent the loss of muscle mass and is essential for maintaining muscle strength, bone health and blood sugar control.
  2. Fiber (mainly vegetables and low glycemic fruits) may reduce the side effects of diarrhea and constipation.
  3. Healthy fats may help you maintain enough calories to avoid going into starvation mode and avoid the aging appearance that may happen with rapid weight loss.

How Atkins Works When You Stop Taking Weight Loss

Medications

If you haven’t made lifestyle changes, such as prioritizing eating healthy and exercising, you may be back to square one: Your appetite and desire for food (i.e., pizza) may return, as do the pounds you’ve lost. One study found that participants regained approximately two-thirds of the weight they lost within one year once they discontinued taking weight loss medications.

Since Atkins is not too restrictive and offers you a variety of food choices, it can help you maintain any weight you’ve lost on weight loss medications.

Atkins + Weight Loss Medications: A Meal Plan

Small, frequent meals are easier to digest and may ease side effects while providing a steady supply of protein, fiber and nutrients. If you have discontinued weight loss medications, this way of eating will also help maintain the weight you may have lost and can help combat any food cravings that may return. Between recipes and products, you can pick from many tasty, low-sugar, protein-rich options.

Breakfast: Atkins ready-to-drink shake: Easy on the stomach, featuring muscle-preserving protein.

Snack: Greek yogurt with berries: Greek yogurt has protein and gut-friendly probiotics, while berries are low in sugar and provide some fiber while offering a slightly sweet contrast to the yogurt. 

Lunch: Bone broth soup with poultry and fresh veggies: Bone broth is rich in L-glutamine, an amino acid that helps support the digestive tract, while poultry adds protein and veggies to boost fiber.

Snack: Atkins bar or Atkins protein chips: Have as much or as little of the Atkins bar to satisfy your appetite or try crispy, savory Atkins protein chips, a convenient way to get some protein without feeling too full. You can also cater to your sweet tooth with Atkins Endulge products.

Dinner: Start with two to four ounces of cooked protein, such as poultry, steak or fish. Add it to a leafy, green salad drizzled with herbaceous olive oil and citrus salad dressing or a side of steamed broccoli or cauliflower topped with a bit of butter. Use root vegetables like sweet potatoes, or a tablespoon or two of cooked hearty grains like quinoa or farro as a nutty finish to a salad.

Ready for more meal planning? Check out these recommendations here for what to eat while taking weight loss medications or after discontinuing them.

Colette-Heimowitz

Author

Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc.

Vice President of Nutrition & Education

Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc. is a former Director of Nutrition at The Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine in New York City. With 20+ years of experience as a nutrition expert, the NY Times best-selling author is the current Vice President of Nutrition & Education at Simply Good Foods Company.

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