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The Atkins Diet was created by Dr. Robert Atkins, a cardiologist whose interest in the health benefits of low-carb diets first peaked in the 1972 book “Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution, ”according to Atkins.com. The diet consists of four phases, starting with very little carbohydrate and gradually eating more until you reach the desired weight.
In the first phase, for example, you are entitled to 20 grams per day of “net carbs,” of which 12-15 come from high-fiber “staple vegetables” like arugula, cherry tomatoes and Brussels sprouts, according to the traditional Atkins 20 plan. This is recommended for maximum weight loss. Two other versions of the diet, Atkins 40, which the company says is “perfect for those with less than 40 pounds to lose,” and Atkins 100, a plan promoted to those looking to maintain their current weight, have a point. starting at 40 grams and 100 grams of net carbs per day, respectively.
Generally speaking, the theory is that by limiting carbohydrates, your body has to turn to an alternative fuel – stored fat. Thus, sugars and “simple starches” such as potatoes, white bread and rice are virtually eliminated; proteins and fats like chicken, meat and eggs are adopted. Fat is burned; the books come off.
But cutting down on total carbs isn’t all there is in Atkins. Limiting the carbs you eat at all times is also part of the game plan. A meal high in carbohydrates floods the blood with glucose, too much for cells to use or store in the liver as glycogen. Where does it end? As fat.
In terms of plan flexibility, Atkins 100 allows you to eat the widest variety of foods early on, allocating 100 net carbs throughout the day. Here’s how it breaks down:
- A minimum of 12 to 15 grams of net carbs per day from staple vegetables
- Three 4-6 ounce servings of protein per day
- Two to four servings of added fat per day
The remaining 85 grams of net carbs comes from foods like legumes, nuts or seeds, high-carb fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
These diets provide less carbohydrate than recommended by government guidelines and are known to lead to rapid weight loss.
How does Atkins Diet work?
To start Atkins 20, the central Atkins program that allows 20 grams of “net carbs” per day during the first phase, you will likely need to clean your cabinet and go to the grocery store or your local butcher. Here are some tips for beginners:
- Fill up on fish, beef, chicken and other proteins; eat a 4 to 6 ounce serving with each meal.
- Add a portion of fat to every meal – butter, dressing, and olive oil are game.
- Supplement your meals with leafy greens and other low-carb vegetables.
For more tips, check out Atkins’ lifestyle book “Atkins: Eat Well, No Less” which features over 100 low-carb recipes, simple ways to cut carbs and sugar, and meal plans. . The book also provides options for controlling carbs through the Atkins 20, Atkins 40, and Atkins 100 plans.
How much does Atkins Diet cost?
Fresh meat and vegetables are more expensive than most processed and fast food foods, so the Atkins diet is generally more expensive than the average American. How much more you spend than usual will largely depend on your choices for protein sources. Do you mainly buy ground beef or spring veal? Chicken or turkey? Chuck vs New York gang? Buying in season should keep the vegetarian tab reasonable.
You can purchase “The New Atkins for a New You”, an essential guide; a binder; and “New Atkins Made Easy”, the most recent version of the Atkins book.
Will the Atkins Diet Help You Lose Weight?
Atkins and other low-carb diets have been studied longer and harder than most other approaches, and Atkins appears to have moderate success, especially in the short term. This is only part of the story, however.
Much of the initial loss is water, experts say, due to the diuretic effect of the diet. This is also true for many other diets and is one of the reasons researchers don’t judge diets based on a few weeks of results. In diet studies, the long term typically begins at two years. Here’s what several key studies had to say about Atkins and other low-carb diets:
- A systematic review published in April 2020 in BMJ, comprising over 120 studies, compared 14 named diets and three controlled diets. At six months, “among the popular named diets, those with the greatest effects on weight loss and blood pressure compared to the usual diet were Atkins, Zone and DASH,” the researchers concluded, along with weight loss highest average of about 12 pounds for Atkins. However, at one year, overall weight loss was decreasing on all diets.
- A third study, published in 2010 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found no clear benefit to a low-carb diet based on Atkins or a generic low-fat diet. Both helped participants lose an average of 11% of their starting weight at 12 months, but they regained about a third afterwards. At two years, the average loss for both diets was 7% of initial body weight. (That’s still not bad – if you’re overweight, losing just 5-10% of your current weight may help prevent certain illnesses.) An analysis of five studies comparing low-carb and low-carb diets in fat published in the 2006 Internal Medicine Archives concluded similarly – while weight loss was greatest at six months for low-carb dieters, at 12 months that difference wasn’t was not significant.
- Researchers looked at 17 different studies that followed a total of 1,141 obese patients on low-carb diets, some similar to the Atkins diet. The results were published in 2012 in Obesity. The study shows that low-carb dieters lost an average of almost 18 pounds over a period of six months to a year. They also noticed an improvement in their waistlines.
- In a study published in November 2014 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, researchers analyzed existing research on Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets to find out which one was more effective. Their results suggest that none of the four diet plans led to significant weight loss, and none were significantly better than the others when it came to keeping the weight off for a year or more. Each of the four diets has helped dieters lose about the same number of pounds in the short term – about 5% of their starting body weight. After two years, however, some of the weight lost was regained by those on the Atkins or Weight Watchers plans. Since diets produce similar results, the study’s authors concluded that dieters should choose the one that best adheres to their lifestyle – for example, Weight Watchers involved a behavior modification based approach. on the group, and Atkins is focused on reducing carbs.