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Atkins Diet Review

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The Atkins Diet is a high-protein, low-cab diet that is also quite high in fat. Formulated by Dr. Robert C. Atkins to help overweight cardiac patients lose weight and improve their cardiovascular status, the diet has been around for more than 40 years. The diet theories put forward by Dr. Atkins went against the conventional nutritional theories of that time, but it became popular when he published his diet book in 1972.

When low-fat diets were the norm for weight loss, Atkins diet recommended plenty of meat and full-fat dairy to compensate for the carbohydrates eliminated from the diet. It received plenty of attention from nutritionists and medical practitioners who immediately condemned it as dangerous. However, rapid weight loss resulting from the diet endeared it to many dieters who had found it impossible to lose weight by other diet and exercise regimes.

How the Atkins Diet Works

Cutting out carbohydrates almost completely is the mainstay of the Atkins Diet. In the initial phase of the diet, people are expected to have no more than 20grams of carbs altogether, vegetables and fruit included. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source of the body, so cutting them out forces the body to consume fat stores in the body to derive energy for regular metabolic functions and activities. Removing carbohydrates solves the problem of blood glucose spikes and dips and resultant cravings. Meat and other high protein foods are highly satiating. They are digested slowly, so they help keep hunger pangs at bay for much longer. More importantly, it puts the body into a state called ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which body burns fat instead of carbohydrates. This is a less efficient mechanism energy wise, so a lot of calories get burned in the process of releasing sufficient amount of energy for bodily functions and regular activities. This increased fat burning naturally translates to rapid weight loss.
Normally, ketosis results from long-term illnesses and starving for extended periods. It also precipitates severe side effects such as nausea, headache, kidney stones, bone fractures, and bad breath. Diabetic people who cannot absorb carbohydrates from the food due to lack of insulin sometimes fall into this condition which can be life threatening in them. A ketogenic diet is sometimes administered in a clinical setting for treating certain types of epilepsy in children, but it is continuously monitored for serious problems.

The Atkins Diet has 4 phases:

Phase 1: This first phase called “Induction” which lasts for 2 weeks or more is the hardest because you are allowed only 20 grams of carbohydrates a day. This kick-starts rapid weight loss by putting the body into ketosis. Meat, eggs and seafood form the bulk of the diet, and they are to be prepared with coconut oil, olive oil, or butter.

Phase 2 is a “Balancing” phase in which a few low-carb foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and pulses are introduced. 

Phase 3 starts when you are almost at your target weight. It is for “Fine-Tuning” the body to including more carbohydrates in the diet.

Phase 4 is the final “Maintenance” stage in which you find your threshold for carbohydrates by introducing more carbs while continuously monitoring your weight.

Is exercise involved?

The Atkins Diet is a nutritional diet program. It does not recommend any particular kind of exercise or activity. There’s no restriction on combining mild exercise with the diet, though, but care should be taken to avoid injuries. The breakdown of proteins creates an acidic environment in the body which increases calcium loss from the bones, making them brittle. That can result in severe exercise-associated injuries.   

Nutritional profile

The Atkins Diet is calorie-rich and nutritious, thanks to the freedom to choose any kind of  foods from meats, fish, seafood, eggs, butter, cheese and milk cream. You get a good supply of essential amino acids and fatty acids as well as many major minerals and fat soluble vitamins. But the same cannot be said about water soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C and B-compound vitamins and several micronutrients that we normally get from fruits and vegetables. Nutritional supplements may be required to prevent deficiencies.
High amount of dietary cholesterol from this pre-dominantly animal protein-based diet has always been a concern. However, contrary to common belief, it does not seem to lead to hypercholesterolemia. In fact, it has been found to increase the level of HDL cholesterol in most people while showing a corresponding drop in bad cholesterol. However, not all people exhibit this beneficial response. Frequent testing may be necessary to monitor your lipid profile.  

The Cost Factor

The Atkins Diet need not be prohibitively expensive if one sticks to preparing meals from the allowed ingredients. It is always healthier to make your own meals from quality ingredients even if it costs a little extra. However, it may not always be convenient. Since it is hard to get diet-complaint convenience foods outside, the diet company has made many ready-to-eat meals available.

Needles to say, the diet can work out to be quite expensive if you rely on their pre-packaged products like ‘Easy Peasy Meal Kit,’ ‘Frozen Foodie Meal Kit’ ‘Evening Chef Meal Kit’ etc. None of them come cheap. Add to that the cost of medical checkups and blood tests to make sure you’re in the safe zone, and, of course, the cost of nutritional supplements that may be required.

Do Dieters Lose Weight on the Atkins Diet? 

Dieters following the Atkins Diet will certainly lose weight, especially in the initial few weeks because of eliminating all carbohydrates. Weight loss may be quite rapid too But, it is usually a short-term effect. Sustainability may be a problem because people often find it hard to follow the food restrictions. As the program moves to the second and third phases, weight loss drastically reduces and finally tapers off. Reintroduction of carbohydrates often results in weight gain unless strict control is practiced. 

Level of Effort

People who have previously followed calorie restrictive low-fat diets often feel excited at the prospect of eating plenty of meat and dairy. Relief from hunger pangs and cravings and rapid weight loss are quite encouraging, but the euphoria often wears off two to three weeks into the diet. Although the diet is not calorie-restrictive as many other diets, it is very food-restrictive––as in limiting the types of foods one is allowed to have.
Monotony of meals is one of the common reasons for people quitting the Atkins Diet. Having to give up carbohydrate-rich comfort foods and not being able to eat fruits and vegetables eventually make people miserable. Dieters are often troubled by constipation as a result of not having enough fiber in the diet. Moreover, the side effects of the ketogenic diet, especially nausea, make it hard to enjoy even the permitted foods. It takes lot of effort to stick with the diet despite all these side effects.  


High-protein, high-fat diets are taxing on the kidneys and the liver, so frequent medical checkups are necessary to avoid potential health problems. 

One has to complete many different phases of the diet to reach the final maintenance stage where normal healthy and balanced meals can be enjoyed. However, most dieters fall off the wagon out of boredom or due to the side effects of ketosis. Even those who managed to stick with the diet, the final outcome at the end of a one year period is not significantly different from those who adopted less drastic weight loss measures. So it’s not a risk worth taking unless you’re left with no other option.

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User Feedback
24 comments / 60% approval
posted 3 August 2018, 20:14   *
I wanted to start on a low carbs diet and since the Atkins products advertise as such, I thought I would give them a try. Well, no wonder you call it low carbs, because there is hardly anything in the frozen meal ackage. I got the Chicken Margarita. It is NOTHING like the picture shows. I had only three 1" size pieces of chicken. No tomatoes. Just a soupy mess of cheese and spinach. Not enough food for a small child to eat. But, I have to admit that when I did eat a serving that had chicken in it, it tasted better than I expected. As far as the low carbs diet itself. It works for me. I haven't gone into it fully yet because I'm trying to piece different foods together that I like. But I still lost 17 lbs in 2 1/2 weeks. I'm @ around 50-70 grams of carbs per day and I'm supposed to be at 30 grams for ketosis. The hardest part is getting rid of sugar. I'm using Stevia for my substitute..
posted 14 January 2018, 17:53   *
Hi , i started out helping my husband loose weight. He wanted to go on the Atkins diet, so i started eating the same meals as he did. We both lost weight and yes you can lose weight. I have really found that this diet can work for anyone. Yes you do eat plenty of meats and you can eat salads too. Their is no way that you can be hungry, this diet does work. If people learn to eat more salades and veggies you can keep the weight off. Having a treat once in awhile won't hurt after you loose the weight. What does the damage is when you go back to your old way of eating. I always found that eating bread made me feel like i am blowing up. Their are plenty of things you can eat and yes this diet does work. I have had blood work done after i lost weight and my test have always come back great and my cholesterol was good too.Don't buy package frozen meals, cook your own it is easy and taste much better too.Good luck to you if you are doing this diet.
posted 1 November 2017, 19:55   *
Dr Atkins died from a subdural hematoma related to a fall on icy pavement outside of Weil Cornell MedicalCenter and was 195 lbs. Get the facts straight.
posted 2 January 2017, 11:23   *
Astonishing weight loss accompanied by a very desirable adjustment in cholesterol LDL HDL ratio. Lower triglycerides and and on target A1C. I have a hereditary propensity toward all these problems The Atkins plan turned a daily battle into a victory walk. I work out two hours a day and have never had an energy drop of notice or loss in muscle mass. Anyone utterly determined toward results can do this diet. The medical view is conservative and cautious towards recommendation but no professional would argue that this diet done to specs would not produce results and rapidly. Nothing inspires like success and you will get results and inspiration if you determine yourself and stick to the prescribed formula. Good luck and God Bless and it is my hope this will start you on the road to a fit and happier life.
posted 30 December 2016, 07:33   *
Started on Atkins Induction 09/28/16 at 283 lbs. I'm 5'10" tall. As of today, 12/30/16, I weigh 233 lbs! I have lost 50 pounds and never been hungry. It was tough the first week, I was a little tired, but after that it was easy! I love meats and I still get in my 20 grams of carbs daily. I eat bacon wrapped shrimp, steak, fajitas, hamburger steak, plus fish. I vary it and now look at food as just fuel, not for comfort! I haven't yet started exercising, but I will once I hit 225 lbs, which I hope will be next week! Finally, a diet that I can follow easily! I feel so much better! My energy level is great, I sleep better, my knees and back no longer hurt! When I want something sweet, I eat an Atkins candy snack or I eat fried pork rinds. I also love kosher dill pickle spears, another favorite. I plan on staying in induction until I reach 160 lbs, then I will move to Phase 2. I had to buy new dress slacks as I have lost 4 dress sizes and still losing. This diet is great, no monthly fees, just follow the diet and you can do it too! I wasn't so sure at first, but now I'm convinced! Thank you, Atkins diet!
posted 15 October 2016, 16:08   *
Outdated and dangerous diet...
posted 13 October 2016, 21:26   *
I have to say up front, I was never over weight. I have a good metabolism. But I like to lean up before the summer begins. The problem is I do not have much will power to work out and eat diet food. Adkins was perfect for me because I love seafood,eggs and pork. I only do Adkins once a year for 2-3 weeks and I can lose about 8 pounds.Of course 3 pounds of it is water weight but nevertheless, I look much leaner. It's easy and you get results fast. It takes a while for me to gain it back because I naturally crave a high protein diet. I would definitely recommend this diet to anyone that needs to see results quick to give a boost and keep them motivated.
posted 5 June 2016, 12:30   *
Dr. Atkins died weighing over 250 lbs with severe heart problems!! People just want to hear good things about their bad habits...
Isabel Mc Mahon
posted 1 March 2016, 01:56   *
I purchase Atkins Diet for the first time, I had a coupon and thought I would try it. One of Atkins product was Chicken Margherita which was the one I cooked and ate. I eat a lot of frozen food because I am unable to use my left hand and can't cook. Well I prepared it per direction served it and honestly it was the worst frozen food I ever had. I had to take a dish and put water in it to get rid of the gravy , it was too much gravy with too much salt and sugar, so I put the chicken in the water. Couldn't put the spinach in the water because the spinach was chopped. It was a horrible meal and even putting the chicken it the water it was terrible. It had more gravy than food. Most frozen is not the best but this was beyond the best. I can't summit it .
posted 23 February 2016, 20:20   *
Can I do this diet because I am gluten free.
posted 7 January 2016, 16:07   *
I loved this diet. I lost 86lbs in 10 month and kept it off for 6 years. I hate when people say it's all protein, it's not. You're encouraged to eat lots of healthy salads and green vegetables more than protein. When choosing your protein there is lean pork, chicken, turkey, seafood, shellfish and lean red meat as well as eggs or tofu. Berries gallore can be had on this diet after the initiation phase and then cantaloupe, honeydew, and other fruits including citrus as well. You can eat out at resteraunts and nobody knows your dieting. Easy to stay on. Easy to plan out weekly meals.
posted 4 January 2016, 15:41   *
Atkins works! It is fast, easy and normal food, avoiding all the bad stuff!!!
posted 13 October 2015, 19:55   *
This diet was developed in the early 70's, after Dr. atkins becoming convinced that an excess of carbohydrate was having negative effects on his patients' health and weight. This was 45 years ago... Now scientists and nutritionists claim that atkins can be dangerous and providing new research about the ketosis state negative effects on your body. I would not recommend this diet to anyone. We need carbs as it is a primary source of the energy.
posted 7 October 2015, 09:07   *
HELP....I'm on day 17 and haven't lost 1#. I've done this diet many years ago and it worked wonders, any opinion on my problem, I'm ready to give up. Thanks
posted 22 September 2015, 06:48   *
If you cannot stick to this diet you are lost because this is simply the easiest, least pleasure depriving diet I have ever tried and the only diet that I was successful with. I have limited time for exercise. I also cannot eat like a bird. Atkins is also easy to follow when on the road since you can always pick something up and just ditch the bread. I lost 10 pounds the first week, 30 more over the next 6 months.Put that in your pipe and smoke it Weight Watchers.
posted 20 September 2015, 19:26   *
I am vegetarian and a big fan of dr. Fuhrman. There is a clear evidence (The China Study) that animal protein in diet increases your risk of coronary artery diseases and even cancer. I recommend everyone to do the research on that!
posted 18 September 2015, 13:00   *
The first time I tried the diet, I only read the first few chapters on doing the initial 2 weeks called Induction. I failed because I didn't read any further than that. A year later I went back and decided to read the entire book. Then, I understood that the initial 2 weeks is meant to "jump start your diet and to prove the point that it's not "fats" that make us gain, but the high glycemic carbohydrates that don't get burned up during the day. Cutting out sugar, and eating more vegetables and fruits than I ever have, I lost 25 lbs and kept it off for 2 years. Cholesterol went from high 200's to 183 and the prediabetic symptoms left as well as seeing a drop in the numbers to normal levels. My previous facial rash and perpetual red nose and cheeks which I use to think was Rosacea, cleared up completely which I've now determined had something to do with a wheat sensitivity. Once I met my goal, I too gave myself one treat a week which usually consisted of a Cold Stone Creamery Founders Favorite. The diet encourages experimenting with one food at a time when introducing grains and fruits into your diet depending upon whether you've reached your goal or wanting to continue to lose. I hate to see so-called health experts determine the nutritional completeness and safety of Atkins when they don't take the time to read how the plan works and allow consumers to "feed" off of the "beef and cheese" stereotype of this diet.
posted 14 August 2015, 00:22   *
Atkins Nutritionals filed for bankruptcy, said there was still a bright future for the company in weight loss. It plans to pare back its operations to focus on selling nutrition bars and shakes.
posted 13 August 2015, 13:20   *
I find this diet extremely easy and it works if you are a disciplined person. I am 1 month in and have lost 10 lbs. I will remain on this for 14 weeks hoping to hit goal of 30 lbs. I exercise on a daily basis of bike riding ~ I believe this helps the weight loss process.
posted 26 July 2015, 07:43   *
I tried, I ate a lot of meat, I failed and I went back to my couscous and chickpeas and veggies. The diet was developed in the 40s . Since carb molecules take on 4 times as much water as protein ones, water weight was lost very fast and then, since proteins are filling because they are digested very slowly, people snack less and true fat is lost, but a huge amount of cholesterol is consumed.
posted 27 June 2015, 21:22   *
Victor s
posted 27 June 2015, 21:20   *
If you ready to read through 360 page book and learn all of the “net carb” calculation in different tables then this diet plan is for you :)
Linda 30
posted 24 December 2014, 04:52   *
posted 13 December 2014, 14:41   *