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Atkins Diet Review

The Atkins Diet.  A “Nightmare” Diet Plan?

The Atkins Diet is one of the original low-carb diets and was a big motivator for the low carb craze of the early 2000s. It was originally developed for use by diabetes and heart disease patients, but has been popularized for use as a general weight-loss program. The Atkins Diet relies on very low consumption of carbohydrates to send the body into a ketogenic state, where it processes stored body fat as energy instead of dietary glucose.


This program promises loss of up to 15 pounds in two weeks without restriction of fatty foods or meats. In the long term, however, the Atkins plan is not much more effective than low fat, calorie-restrictive, or other mainstream diet plans. It can also be very expensive for some users to implement, as it encourages the purchase of more expensive foods high in proteins and fat.

For example, the Atkins meal plan on average will cost you over $63 to lose one pound (compare to Pure Slim 1000 which only costs you $2.99 / pound lost). Overall, while the Atkins Diet can be a good choice for some people, it’s not ideal for everyone and it won’t work miracles.

How It Works

The Atkins Diet uses a four-phase system. The first phase, induction, is the most restrictive and lasts about two weeks. The goal of this state is to induce ketosis as quickly as possible. People in the induction phase are restricted to less than 20 grams of net carbohydrates per day. Out of this 20 grams, 12 to 15 net grams must come from salad greens, vegetables and fruits such as pumpkin, turnips, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach.

The second part of the Atkins Diet is ongoing weight loss, or OWL. This phase allows a 5 gram increase of net carbohydrates per week, as long as the level remains low enough to maintain ketosis.

Phase three is known as pre-maintenance. It allows the dieter to increase intake of net carbohydrates by 10 grams per week. The goal is to find the appropriate maintenance carbohydrate level. As soon as weight loss plateaus, the user must drop carbohydrate intake by 10 grams. This phase lasts until the user finds a maintenance point that does not cause weight gain. At this point, the lifetime maintenance phase begins, and the user sticks with the net carb intake determined during the pre-maintenance phase. The fourth phase is expected to form the basis of a permanent eating plan.

Health Risks

The Atkins eating plan has been criticized for potential kidney, heart and digestive problems in people who follow its restrictions. In studies where members consumed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet based heavily on animal products, the risk of heart disease increased. This increase did not occur when the protein came primarily from vegetable sources. People who follow a ketosis-inducing diet may also suffer from kidney damage, which can lead to kidney disease and even failure.


Early studies showed that users of the Atkins Diet have significant weight loss early on, especially in the induction stage. In a 2003 study, of 63 obese people, Atkins dieters lost twice as much weight as people on a conventional diet at 3, 6 and 12 month intervals. Later studies over longer intervals have shown that overall weight loss tends to even out between groups on a low-carbohydrate diet and those on a low fat or low calorie diet with similar calorie intake. In general, Atkins and other low-carbohydrate dieters lose slightly more weight and suffer from slightly less hunger, but they lose the initial advantage associated with the induction period.


Overall, the Atkins Diet produces relatively reliable weight loss that can be very impressive in the initial stages, but it comes with some significant health risks. When followed correctly, this plan produces only slightly better weight loss than a conventional diet. It can be accompanied by discomfort, difficulty adhering to the dietary restrictions and a significant increase in food costs.

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3 Responses to “Atkins Diet Review”

  1. Thomans April 23, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    The diet works if you stay on it, but at what long term health cost? Too much $$$. Also … it is worth noting that the Atkins Diet can cause liver damage.

  2. April May 1, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    I followed this diet to the letter. I was determined to loose weight and keep it off after years of
    trying. My husband joined me in this about a month after I started.

    After about 6 months I was seeing some weight loss and my husband lost a litte more than I did. I went to my doctor for a checkup and the lab results showed my LDL cholesterol and tryglicerides were up just barely in the high range. Considering I had never bad results before this was alarming. I told my doctor about the Atkins diet I was on and he just shook his head and laughed. He said the diet was find for weightlifters for a few weeks or a month, but for normal people it is just a ticket to an early grave from heart disease or stroke. Too much fat he said.

    I was worried and sent my husband in and his numbers were of the charts (his had been slightly high before but not like this). His blood pressure was up too.

    The end result is we are off the Atkins diet and eating a balanced diet while we heal our bodies from the damage. I knew better than to start a major diet without talking to my doctor first, but I did it anyway. It keeps me up some nights thinking how much damage I did to my husband’s heart during those months.

  3. Michael May 2, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    Low Carb works great, but this is NOT the best way

    I’ve been living on a very low carb diet for almost 2 years. My once high blood sugars are normal, my cholesterol has dropped, my blood pressure is normal, and I have maintained a weight loss of over 25 lbs–while going through menopause!
    However, I really HATE the way that Dr. Atkins makes it sound like he invented this diet, and I hate even more the very poor way he explains it and the fact that he uses a snake-oil salesman tone to make it sound much easier and much less complex than it really is.

    His approach has caused thousands of people to abaondon the diet because they couldn’t get it working for them, or because his approach is so extreme they couldn’t get started.

    He has also singlehandedly alienated the health establishment with his sloppy science and self-promotion.

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