The Atkins Diet: Fad or Miracle Worker?

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Atkins Diet Review

PROS And CONS Of The ATKINS DIET

Pros:

  • No calorie counting.
  • Healthy carbs in moderation are allowed, so it’s not a complete taboo.
  • Less sugar and unsaturated fats can drop cholesterol levels along with the pounds.
  • The books are updated regularly, with new and emerging options.
  • If you need a comfort food fix—or simply don’t care to cook—the range of pre-made products is wide.
  • Your body does eventually adjust if you stick with it.
  • Compared with many plans out there, it’s relatively affordable to do.

Cons:

  • Getting started when an entire food group is all but eliminated can set up the potential for binges.
  • A cold-turkey approach to simple carbs can leave users lethargic and rather grouchy until the body adjusts.
  • Eating out can be problematic, which can affect your social life (though a lot of restaurants have low-carb options now).
  • Reintroducing carbs, even complex carbs, too quickly can result in regaining the weight, which can be discouraging.
  • You cannot go back to even half the donut-and-white-bread consumption you once had—it’s a lifetime of commitment.

The Bottom Line On The ATKINS DIET

With a fifty-year legacy, Atkins isn’t going anywhere—or at least low-carb diets aren’t. It’s a diet that transitions to a lifestyle, and not everyone makes that transition. Done without the extra food items, the program costs little more than the $25-each books the food item costs are within reason in the world of diet products. Followed properly, it’s safe. And it does allow for some carbs, which the body needs to function smoothly, though most of us would probably consider the amount the Atkins diet allows to be a bit of deprivation.

How Does The ATKINS DIET Work?

Bells and whistles aside, the Atkins Diet boils down to a pretty basic set of rules: drastically reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates—sugars, white flour, processed carbohydrate foods—you eat. Dr. Atkins believed such foods lead to high blood sugar (diabetes), heart problems, and weight gain. But it’s not starvation by any means; simple refined carbohydrates are replaced with copious amounts of vegetables and protein, moderate fat intakes, and small portions of low-sugar fruits and whole, high-fiber grains. No calories to count. No points á la Weight Watchers.

There is one item the Atkins dieter keeps track of: net carbs. Which is easy to figure out:

Net carbs (grams) = Total carbs (g) – Fiber (g).

Fiber doesn’t break down as it’s digested; other carbohydrates break down into sugars which are then absorbed by the body. Fiber just keeps right on going through the digestive tract. But while it’s in the body, it keeps the body feeling full. We need at least 20-30 grams of fiber a day for good health, but most of us barely get 15 grams.

Phases Of The ATKINS DIET

The Atkins diet has four phases: Induction, Balancing, Pre-Maintenance, and Lifetime Maintenance.

The Induction phase allows 20 net carbs and 1,500 calories per day. This phase typically lasts around 2 weeks or until you are about 15 pounds away from your goal weight. It’s a strict program; 15 of those 20 net carbs come from super low-sugar vegetables like  broccoli, asparagus, cucumbers, and green beans. According to the website there are two different programs:

With Atkins 20, your starting point (Phase 1, Induction) is 20 grams of net carbs a day. With Atkins 40, your starting point is 40 grams of net carbs a day. Both plans allow you to increase your carbs, but one adds food one at a time and the other adds to your carbohydrate portion size as you approach weight loss goals.

The Balancing Phase allows 12-15 net carbs from vegetables, until you are around 10 pounds away from your goal. The Pre-Maintenance and Lifestyle phases both slowly introduce complex carbohydrates back into your diet, in a way that will not negatively affect your waistline.

What About the Atkins Food Items In the Grocery Store?

Because many of us just don’t want to give up familiar comfort foods, the company created a line of food items all low in net carbs so they can be eaten while on the diet. For example, their Caramel Nut Chew bar only has 2 net carbs and 1 gram of sugar. There are frozen food items as well, such as a pepperoni pizza with 11 net carbs and 23 grams of protein. But just because these foods are program-approved, does that mean they’re healthy?

ATKINS DIET History

The low-carbohydrate diet has been around since the mid-18th century, when it was literally the only treatment available for diabetes (insulin wasn’t discovered until 1922).

It was introduced for weight loss in 1862—the story of William Banting is well worth a glance.

But no plan brought low-carbing so brightly into the spotlight as The Atkins Diet, introduced in the early 1970s. Dr. Robert Atkins’ initial diet book, Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution, took the fitness world by storm and changed the way many people thought about dieting.

Atkins ousted the idea that low-fat foods can help you lose weight, encouraging dieters to eat high-fat foods instead (though the idea is really high-healthy-fat foods) and drop the sugar and refined flours. We now know that the entire modern low-fat craze was started in the 1960s by the sugar industry, who paid scientists to taint their research results, which had confirmed the dangers of too much sugar in the diet—“Blame fat instead!”

From an August 2014 report from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Two hundred years ago, the average American ate only 2 pounds of sugar a year. In 1970, we ate 123 pounds of sugar per year. Today , the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year. This is equal to 3 pounds (or 6 cups) of sugar consumed in one week!

Nutritionists suggest that Americans should get only 10% of their calories from sugar. This equals 13.3 teaspoons of sugar per day (based on 2,000 calories per day). The current average is 42.5 teaspoons of sugar per day.

But back to Atkins. He was one of the first people to really challenge the whole low-fat/high-sugar narrative, opening up the dieting world to new ideas. But the damage has been done, and the concepts surrounding low-carb/high-fat diets feel extreme in a time when America is almost literally drowning in sugar.

The idea that you should cut out carbohydrates altogether seems a lot to ask of someone, and there is debate about the healthy/not-healthy aspects of this lifestyle. But nearly fifty years after Atkins’ first publication, some dieters still use it to help themselves lose weight. The premise is fairly straightforward: eating foods higher in protein and fat allegedly help eliminate cravings for simple sugars and empty carbohydrates that encourage fat storage. And what started as a single book has now morphed into a full-on industry of its own, with apps, food items, and online programs to follow.

So let’s break it down.

Is The ATKINS DIET Safe?

The diet products that Atkins offers—shakes, bars, and frozen meals—may push your comfort buttons, but they’re not better than eating whole foods. Full of preservatives, sugar alcohols, and a long list of unpronounceable ingredients, “low net carb” doesn’t equal “good for you,” in my opinion.

But processed goodies aside, the Atkins program itself has been around awhile and is relatively safe. Dr. Atkins does not promote any type of exercise in the program for weight loss, though most health professionals do recommend at least some body movement for overall health if not for direct weight loss. The Mayo Clinic offers a typical Atkins-style menu in its review of the program:

Breakfast. Scrambled eggs with sautéed onions and cheddar cheese. Acceptable beverages include coffee, tea, water, diet soda and herbal tea.

Lunch. Chef salad with chicken, bacon and avocado dressing, along with an allowed beverage.

Dinner. Baked salmon steak, asparagus, and arugula salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, along with an allowed beverage.

Snacks. You typically can have two snacks a day. Snacks may include an Atkins Diet product, such as a chocolate shake or granola bar, or a simple snack like celery and cheddar cheese.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Question 1: Can you take a multi-vitamin while on the Atkins Diet?
Answer 1: Yes, they promote this on their website here

How do I contact the company?

E-mail: None provided

Website: Atkins.com

Phone Number: 1-800-6-ATKINS

Address: 1050 17th Street, Suite 1500 Denver, CO 80265

*Please keep in mind that with any diet or weight loss program, individual results will vary.

Review Sources
  1. Joslin Communications, “A Brief History of the ‘Diabetes Diet,’” Speaking of Diabetes (blog), last updated 12 June 2014, accessed 23 March 2018, http://blog.joslin.org/2014/06/a-brief-history-of-the-diabetes-diet/.
  2. Conor Heffernan, “The History of the Low-Carb Diet,” com, last updated 4 October 2014, accessed 23 March 2018, https://physicalculturestudy.com/2014/10/04/the-history-of-the-low-carb-diet/.
  3. Julie Fidler, “How the Sugar Industry Made Everyone Hate Fat—Fraudulently,” com, last updated 15 September 2016, accessed 23 March 2018, http://naturalsociety.com/sugar-lobbyists-skewed-research-demonized-fat-5719/.
  4. “How Much Sugar Do You Eat? You May Be Surprised!” S. Department of Health and Human Services website, last updated August 2014, accessed 23 March 2018, https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/sugar.pdf.
  5. “The Benefits of a Low Carb Diet: How Does Atkins Work?” com, accessed 13 March 2018, https://www.atkins.com/how-it-works.
  6. “Compare Atkins Diet Plans,” com, accessed 13 March 2018,https://www.atkins.com/how-it-works/compare-plans.
  7. Mayo Clinic Staff, “Atkins Diet: What’s Behind the Claims?” org, last updated 16 August 2017, accessed 13 March 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/atkins-diet/art-20048485.

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Information on this website is not to replace the advise of the doctor, but rather for general education purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any diet or taking any dietary supplements.Articles, reviews and investigations are our own opinion, and written based on the information publicly available or simply contacting the companies. We try our best to stay up to date with constantly changing information. If you find any information inaccurate, please email us, we’ll verify for accuracy and update it.Disclosure: some of the links on this website are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase an item following one of the links, we will receive a commission. Regardless of that, we only recommend the products or services, that we strongly believe will benefit our readers. Read full disclosure here.”
My name is Lauren Jones and I come from a longstanding background of fitness and nutrition. I was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. Growing up, I played at the highest level of competitive tennis in the United States. I would travel both domestically and internationally to compete high level tournaments. With that, came a very disciplined regime of fitness and nutrition. I was given a full ride tennis scholarship to a Division 1 school, where I studied Journalism. After school, I went on to play professionally for two years. I love to incorporate health, and wellness in everything I do!

11 COMMENTS

  1. Here is Atkins in a nutshell: FLESH (meat, chicken fish), VEGETABLES, FATS and EGGS.
    Do NOT eat sugar, starches (potato etc.) rice, pasta or anything made with flour–cake cookies, bread.

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  2. Any diet that go to extremes in any direction can’t be good for you. The best way to loose weight is to examine your current diet, remove things that are either bad for you such as processed foods and high sugars, replace them with things that are healthier such as fruits or dark chocolate. Then curb the portions. Most of us eat much more than we need. We tend to eat until we are full instead of satisfied. I have found that when I feel the need to splurge, if I choose things with a stronger flavor such as sharp cheese or dark chocolate, it takes less to satisfy my craving.

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    [su_spoiler title="Disclosure"]Information on this website is not to replace the advise of the doctor, but rather for general education purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any diet or taking any dietary supplements.Articles, reviews and investigations are our own opinion, and written based on the information publicly available or simply contacting the companies. We try our best to stay up to date with constantly changing information. If you find any information inaccurate, please email us, we’ll verify for accuracy and update it.Disclosure: some of the links on this website are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase an item following one of the links, we will receive a commission. Regardless of that, we only recommend the products or services, that we strongly believe will benefit our readers. Read full disclosure here."[/su_spoiler]
  3. Note to the author: If you are going to write a critical article, you owe us the courtesy of learning how to use to proper English. For example, the sentence, “The main principal is not to consume too much sugar, white flour, or refined carbohydrates,” contains a misspelled word. “Principal” should be “principle.” If you cannot write in proper English, why should we rely on the rest of article?

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  4. Couldn’t agree with you more! You can eat healthy following an Atkins type program. I make my own mayo etc., use real food like butter, cream. The truth is, not eating meat makes you weak! No soy oils or corn oils in my diet. I stay away from the New “Atkins” pre-made stuff and bars. Might have had a headache in the beginning from detoxing all the fake diet and junk foods and toxins out of my body. Big deal!, The “bad odor” thing is ridiculous. I lost weight and keep it off. I’m 63, walk every day I can. Never sick, have tons of energy.

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  5. I personally think high protein diets are good for you but carbs are absolutely needed to actually distribute the protein. I still do not see how high fat even if its healthy can be beneficial long term. Everything should be consumed in moderation. You want your body to burn fat while decreasing carbs.

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  6. Hi I have been on Atkins diet for 11 weeks at first the weight fell off fast but now its about 1 lb per week. I started at 212lbs yesterday I went to weigh and im down to 183. I started with a 43in waist now im a 35in waist. It works and its not that hard to stay on it you are limited to what you can eat. lots of omelets with any carb free meet carb free cheese green olives. I make pams of quiche with eggs any carb free meat heavy cream broccoli spinach. Most vegs have lots of carbs you cant even eat a can of green beans I eat a lot of can collard greens and I get the chicken thats all ready cooked at WalMart or any store and shred it up and make omelets or any other time you can eat all you want. I cant believe I have not cheated if you go on this diet no cheating if you just eat one peice of candy it will mess your diet up. You eat no carbs and your body takes yours in your body and burns them. It works but you can all so go on a no fat and just eat carbs all depends on you. I think I can lose what I want in 3 more months 155 is right around the corner good luck everyone you can do it look at the carbs on everything you eat get almond milk with sugar free pudding helps your sweet tooth when you craving something sweet the almond milk has 8 carbs in a half gallon oh the unsweet almond milk it sucks by itself but makes great pudding 2 cups of pudding is only 2 grans of carbs. One more thing I have not exercised at all i’m going to join a gym now but you dont have to it will help out big time but some people just dont have extra time or money in this crazy world.

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  7. I have been in ketios for 2 weeks (dark shade of purple) but NOT loseing weight…What am I doing wrong..very low carb diet… drinking water…I go to water arobics 3 x a week…I no longer have cravings for sweets….But shoulden’t I be losing weghtas well????

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  8. TOP TRENDING DIETS IN 2019

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