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The Atkins' Diet: Friend or Foe?

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Biology 103
2002 First Paper
On Serendip

The Atkins' Diet: Friend or Foe?

Kathryn Bailey

In a society that is continually obsessed with being thin and dieting, the following quote might seem like an intriguing promise:


Sounds good doesn't it? All the dieter must do is eliminate carbohydrates and he or she will loose weight, right? If this sounds too good to be true, you are not alone in your hesitation. An increasing number of nutritionists and doctors are warning that diets that eliminate carbohydrates in favor of protein and fat are not effective and may be dangerous to one's health. As Sheila Kelly, a clinical dietician, says, "It's a seductive concept. Watch the pounds melt away while you eat all of the high-fat foods you want. Even better, don't bother watching your caloric intake or worrying about regaining your weight. All you have to do is avoid 'poison' carbohydrates" (2). The Atkins' Diet, one of the best known of the low carbohydrate diet programs, promotes the idea that carbohydrates are an overweight person's barrier to loosing weight (3). This essay will examine specifically what the Atkins' Diet calls for and the mounting body of evidence against low carbohydrate diets.

In 1972 Dr. Robert Atkins published Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution and in 1992 published Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, an updated version of his first book. Atkins' books promote a controlled carbohydrate diet and provide the dieter with a four-step program to loosing weight (3). The first step is a 2-week "induction" period, during which one attempts to reduce his or her carbohydrate intake to less than 20 grams a day. During the remaining three steps the dieter incrementally raises his or her carbohydrate level, but never surpasses one's "critical carbohydrate level." Noncarbohyrate foods are permitted whenever the dieter is hungry and Atkins also recommends large amounts of nutritional supplements (4). By following these four steps, the dieter will induce ketosis, a process Atkins describes as equivalent to fat burning. When a person's body does not receive enough carbohydrates to burn for energy it turns to fat for its energy. He says, "There is nothing harmful, abnormal or dangerous about ketosis" and that is it a natural process within the body. The dieter will only have to wait about two days for ketosis to begin, which, according to Atkins, explains why a dieter following the Atkins' dieter sees results so quickly. For whom is this diet safe? Atkins suggests that overweight people over the age of 12 can benefit from his diet (3).

Why does Atkins claim that carbohydrates are responsible for weight gain and play a role in the failure of many diets? A basic understanding of what carbohydrates are is necessary for one to answer this question. Carbohydrates are nutrient-rich starch and sugars that effect blood sugar, called glucose. Muscle and liver glycogen stores are fueled by carbohydrates, as is the brain (5). For this reason, the intake of carbohydrates in children is particularly important because they affect learning ability (6). Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of fuel and if a person is attempting to lose fat but is simultaneously eating carbohydrates, he or she will use those carbohydrates as energy and the excess fat will remain, according to Atkins. He says that a person must eliminate carbohydrates in order to induce the fat burning process of ketosis, as outlined above (3).

The importance of carbohydrates in the diet is reflected by the government's "Food Pyramid." The foods at the base of the pyramid are considered the staple of a healthy diet: refined carbohydrates such as bread, rice, and pasta. At the top of the pyramid, foods that should be avoided or limited, are fats and oils (7). The American Heart Institute and the National Institutes of Health recommend that a balanced diet include 250 to 300 grams of carbohydrates a day, about 15 times the amount recommended by Atkins (2). Ross Feldman, an exercise physiologist, says, "there is no evidence that eating a diet rich in carbohydrates is associated with obesity" (5). Why does such a large discrepancy exist? Many sources do agree on one thing; the Atkins' Diet may temporarily help with weight loss but it may also pose significant health risks.

The primary health risk of the Atkins' Diet is dehydration. After carbohydrates are significantly reduced, ketosis begins and the dieter initially looses liver glycogen. This storage of carbohydrates is lost because the body does not have enough glucose to maintain blood sugar so it turns to the liver glycogen. Glycogen consists of a large number of water molecules and when the body converts glycogen to glucose, the water is lost from the body. This explains much of the initial weight loss on the Atkins' Diet, rather than Atkins' claim that the initial weight loss is fat (1). The large amount of water loss poses the risk of dehydration, but is not the most potentially severe consequence of the Atkins' Diet. The high fat content may put the dieter at risk for coronary heart disease, hyperlipidemia (high blood fat), and hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol). The high protein content may put extra strain the kidneys, which can lead to electrolyte imbalance, decrease the kidneys' ability to absorb calcium, which could lead to the early stages of osteoporosis (5). The results of a study conducted by the University of Kentucky after a computer analysis of a week's worth of sample Atkins' menus report that a dieter is at risk of cancer, among other serious risks (4).

One might wonder why the Atkins' Diet has been successful even though studies have exposed these serious risks. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that the rapid weight loss provides the dieter with rapid reinforcement for his or her weight- loss effort. The dieter might assume that the weight-loss is fat reduction, as Atkins would have us believe, while ignoring possible heath risks. But how will the dieter enjoy the weight loss? Actually, no one knows. There have been no long-term studies on the effectiveness of the Atkins' Diet, even by Atkins. Atkins cites vague reasons that his diet has long-term worth by claiming that the permitted, low- carbohydrate food is so delicious that dieters would have little difficulty following his diet for an extended period of time. The longest amount of time that Atkins cites for successful weight loss maintenance is six to twelve months. In fact, one study estimated the weight regain from the Atkins' Diet to be 96%. At any rate, the need for a long-term study on the effectiveness of the Atkins' Diet is clearly needed, as supported by many sources (1), (3), (4), (7).

Without results from a long- term study one can not safely assume that low- carbohydrate diets, such as Atkins', are effective. The dieter is ultimately responsible for his or her own decision to ignore health risks in favor of shedding a extra weight. As Keith Anderson, spokesperson for the American Dietic Association, says, "We need to know much more before people start making claims...Shouldn't diet doctors prove safety first, rather than write books and then say 'OK, prove harm?'" (7). Instead of opting for an extreme dieting method, such as Atkins, one might better benefit from using common sense. There is no magical weight loss program and routine of exercise and a healthy, realistic, balanced diet is a dieter's best bet.



1)Cornell Cooperative Extension: Food and Nutrition, article entitled Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Heresy or Hype

2), article entitled Low-Carb Diets Unhealthy Trend

3)Atkins Nutritionals: Home, the Atkins Homepage

4)Quackwatch Home Page, a critical article about low-carbohydrate diets

5), a article about fad diets

6), an article entitled 'Extreme eating' may equal extreme problems

7), an article entitled The Low Fat Legend



Continuing conversation
(to contribute your own observations/thoughts, post a comment below)

11/06/2005, from a Reader on the Web

My only reply to this article and articles like these is...I lost 30 lbs in six weeks and impoved my blood levels. I felt better than I have felt in years. I see all of these warnings and cautions and they keep my friends from really digging in and losing the weight they could because they've heard this or that. I tell them a six week run on Atkin's will not kill you..just do it and see.. That should be the message. If it makes you unhealthy or feel bad or not work..then simply stop. No one can dispute my results.. I watched it happen and was completely amazed.. I noticed it most in the mornings.. It started snow balling.. Once it really started it litterally fell off. But with ney saying like this, people are turned off or confused from the get-go.. It's so get something that REALLY works and there is always somebody that's going to knock it down..unfortunate.


Additional comments made prior to 2007

I think maybe the article is a little harsh on the Atkins diet, but the writer is correct in stating the importance of carbohydrates in a healthy diet. I've lost 20 pounds by simply eating the foods I'm supposed to be eating (which includes plenty of carbs!) and by exercising two to three times a week. For long term weight loss and overall good health, a well-balanced diet and regular exercise is the best way to go! ... Alyssa, 13 February 2006



I lost 21 pounds on Atkins in one year, you'd think that was a GREAT THING but here's the problem! My chloresterol went up to 270 and my doctor freaked out telling me I had to get off the diet immediately! I did, but still watched carbs, starting to eat an occasional banana, a bit of low sugar oatmeal, a tiny bit of pasta and immediately I gained 5 pounds! I NEED HELP! I cannot do Atkins due to the chloresterol I can't eat eggs and cheese and I NEED TO GET BACK TO THE 140 MARK! I am in a wedding in 2 months and if this keeps up I will gain it all back! I DO NOT EAT SWEETS, little fruit, no potato, no rice, no muffins , no crap! AND I NEED FRUIT! What do I do? Oh, and I drink a ton of water daily and I walk! ... Debra Johnson, 5 April 2006



Just because one has weight loss does not mean it is healthy. I did this diet when I was young and it worked. I would never do it again. If one is eating large amounts of fat and the liver is in ketosis, then where is the fat going that you are ingesting? Not natural. There is something wrong with a diet where one can eat twenty hot dogs wrapped in bacon and cheese and still lose weight. It doesn't take a scientist to figure that out ... Jeff Baldori, 14 June 2006



I agree with the last reply. So what if it is water weight? If you are carrying around pounds and pounds of excess weight because of water retention then it is good to get rid of it. Right? Some/many people are sensative to sugar/carbs because of genetics but more probably from just plain overeating. They become huge and misshapen, totally unattractive(not thier fault)and wonder why. Well here is a proven answer. It's an intolerance once corrected which will put them at their normal weight. So if they are lucky enough to figure it out, the Atkin's diet or low carb way of eating will help them get rid of the weight the vexes and plagues them to distraction. It is amazing the infinite discussion on wether this diet is safe. Oh my gosh we must save the fat people from doing something that might hurt them. That is insulting. What is more safe, over eating and over drinking and stressing out the heart carrying around an enormous body? You know I can't even remember anyone in my high school who would have even been considered fat. Today there are fat miserable kids everywhere. It is sad but a commentary on the overabundance of sugarladen foods available to kids. Could it possibly be that they get fat from that stuff? I think so. Wouldn't it make sense to limit (dare I say it CARBS) to only occasional treats? ... Sharon, 22 August 2006



The low carb diets work, they work really fast, they just work period! But I would always allow myself one serving of carbs once a week and still lost about the same as the other author (30 lbs in six weeks). The only down fall is once you stop the diet, you can gain all the weight back instantaneously unless you really watch what you eat. I did this diet twice and the second time I learned my lesson and kept it off. I would not recommend doing the diet for too long, but it can give you an initial burst of weight loss and then you could do something like weight watchers, etc. ... Laurie, 26 August 2006



I found the Atkins diet really works also. My blood levels are excellent. Watching my carbs has kept me consistenly 20 lbs. below what I was before. My brother is on it and never has any stomach problems anymore. Another friend of mine went on it. His doctor was doing a study on the Atkins diet. Both his and my doctor said the diet has excellent health benefits if done properly! I know if my Dad had known about this diet and followed it, he probably would be alive today ... Dave, 7 January 2007



i am no expert on diets, however am ytrying atkins and itseems to be working, if a high meat or fish diet is detrimental to health, why dont dogs/cats/birds/fish suffer from this ?

also these animals are not generally overweight, the animals that ARE overweight and have a lot of fat in their systems are sheep, cows etc that are vegetarian ... Gary, 7 February 2007



I find this article to be an okay attempt to alert the reader of the cautions of a low carbohydrate, high protein/high fat diet however I feel there is a horrible slant of bias on the whole thing...from both the writer's opinions as well as each of the references used. The writer clearly neglected to check any research that has been completed on the diets of traditional hunting cultures. The best example I can give would be of the Inuit culture- who have been thriving on a ketogenic high fat diet for millenia. Also, I can recall a ketogenic diet still being used from the past century to treat brain disorders such as epilepsy when medication has failed. The writer also failed to research the creation of the American food pyramid, and instead appeared to take it as gospel truth. I am not entirely for following a ketogenic diet, but it can easily be proven that when followed properly, Humans can adapt and thrive to such a metabolic state and actually have improvement in their body (triglyceride levels, cholesterol and blood pressure actually go down with a reduction in carbohydrates). The same can be said for a high carbohydrate, low fat vegetarian diet as well. The human body is extremely adaptable, that's part of how we've made it to be so prolific today. Again, this essay was a good attempt- but as a writer, especially in the realm of science- it is important to research a well rounded collection of opinions to form your own point of view. In other words, try reading the studies and literature that doesn't support what you're setting out to prove and pay close attention to those that do ... Pamela Hayward, 22 October 2007


cellular detox diet's picture

cellular detox diet

There's really a whole lot know about Atkins' diet. Thanks for raising awareness for this topic and providing valuable information.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Atkins diet

When i quit smoking I gained alot of weight. Low cal diets simply never worked for me. I went on Atkins and lost 100 lbs in 14 months (330 lbs to 230 lbs). When I went in for my physical, my "bad" cholesterol was actually lower, and at a low enough level that it needed no corrective action. What this article seems to ignore is Atlkins is a LOW CARB diet not a NO CARB DIET ! There are many vegies and fruit you can eat as well as fish, it is not just red meat and fats. I think many "professionals" don't like the Atkins diet because of the meat consumption which is not a politically correct lifestyle as far as they are concerned.

Chris's picture

Diet is definitely a friend

Diet is definitely a friend of mine! I have been on the HCG diet for a few months no thanks to and it has been a great journey for me. I have seen some great results and I know that I am losing weight in a safe and effective way.

Serendip Visitor's picture

not sure about this

Hmmm.... I have been on Atkins 3 weeks. Lost 6 lbs, 2 inches off my waist, 1 1/2 off my hips, 1/2 inch off my arms, etc. the largest area of inch loss was off my fattiest areas. Haven't gone crazy on the fats and meats, but I have eaten my share and I enjoyed that. Bacon has sugar, so I didn't eat that anyway. I ignored the part that said don't worry about calories, and I am trying to eat about 1500 -1800 cal per day. Sometimes less, because sometimes I'm not hungry. I eat when I'm hungry and don't when I'm not. But as far as calories, come on, energy in versus energy out does matter still. The thing skinny people don't realize is that for some of us, calories alone do not tell the story, there's a metabolic element that defies our every effort. So in general I think ATkinds might be worth a look. But here's the thing. Thinking I had to be super careful to not damage my kidneys, I actually drank TOO MUCH water and stripped out my electrolytes, and became dehydrated. Be careful of this!!! Water alone acts as a diuretic. The article then seemed very convincing that I had just screwed myself by doing Atkins, but reading closely, it has some generalities in it that do not ring entirely true to me. Doctors can be very helpful but they do tend to use generalities that were just handed to them, and there is a reason they call it "practicing" medicine. This is not one-size-fits-all, we have to each think with this and measure carefully. Any of us who have been trying to lose weight FOR YEARS knows this is a tightrope (and we really resent being mocked for being overweight by the way, go jump off a cliff please). So anyway today I'm dehydrated and rehydrating with water, salt and a touch of sugar. Yes, sugar: Your body needs a little bit of that to upake the sodium intestinally, and don't take a chance with that part, because dehydration is dangerous, a small amount of sugar will not crash your ketones. (Just don't go swig a HFCS drink.) For insulin-resistant people like me, sugar can be very bad on the body and make you very fat and very sick. I love brown rice and fresh sweet produce, but I cannot do a lot of carbs healthy or not and expect to lose weight - 5 years of trying have disabused me of that idea. There are as many opinions here as there are pie-holes. I do think it is easier when you are not hungry and have some energy, and lotsa carbs screw that up for me. So since I can not tell WHO to believe anymore, I guess I have to just watch carefully and tread lightly, listen to my body, and see what happens next. By the way, if you grind up a very small amount of summer squash, zuchini, mushroom, onion and garlic in your food processor, then combine that with egg, the insoluble fiber in the veggies makes an excellent replacement filler instead of rice or crachers, in the ground meat in a stuffed pepper. Top it with a slice of tomato and a small amount of shredded Dubliner cheese and bake. No sugary tomato sauce, the tomato is plenty wet! 1/2 Stuffed Pepper is about 260 calories. It's really good and low on the carbs.

SD-Dude's picture

Atkins works

What's more "unhealthy"? Being obese, or dropping lots of rapid lbs through Atkins? I'll take Atkins any day, sorry. I'm not a lifetime low-carber, but whenever I feel the need to shed some lbs I hop on the Atkins train for a few weeks and it works wonders. I lost 40lbs in 6 weeks on Atkins before with exercise thrown in (Had to lose it for BootCamp), tried it again a few years later and dropped about 20 lbs in 3 weeks. Now I'm back on the Atkins diet as of this week and plan to stay on it for a solid month at least, looking for a solid 20-30lb drop. It works people, trust me! I'm in my 20's though so I don't worry about cholestorol levels and don't have high blood pressure or kidney issues. Also, just cause your on Atkins doesn't mean you can eat all you want, I still eat moderatly sized portions and try to avoid the super fatty stuff like hamburger meat, bacon, buffalo wings, ect.. Opt for things like Turkey, Chicken, Salmon, Tuna, ect.. And drink plenty of water. Only downsides to Atkins is the first week or so your kinda tired, but then your energy levels go way up. Also being in ketosis can cause some people to get insomnia (Unfortunatly I'm one of those people), so I take 5-HTP when I get bouts of insomnia and sleep like a baby. And I don't have the bad breath problem at all.

Lee's picture

My girlfriend has started it

My lady is now starting it up I have explained that she should research it first, problem is that it's so popular.


Mike Ryan's picture

Atkins works plain and simple...

I lost 50lbs in 2 months, I have the pictures to prove it and one year later I'm still skinny. If you're overweight this diet WILL work for you.

Hannah's picture


One thing this article fails to point out-is that it can kill you.
Ketosis is a 'last resort' in the human body for a reason, the body begins to use up protein stored in muscles as well as excess fat stored on the body-Muscles including the Heart, lungs and diaphragm. Ketosis is also what happens to an Anorexic person, as they begin to waste away, guess they didn't tell you that on the website. An example of this is the 1981 irish hunger strike- some of those on the strike died of Pneumonia, because they couldn't clear their lungs as their diaphragm had been used as a store of energy.
Its great that so many people are losing weight (don't get me wrong here..)but it is dangerous as the entire process 'tricks' the body that you are starving to death.

Serendip Visitor's picture

You have committed a logical

You have committed a logical fallacy. Ketosis is the metabolic state of consuming fat and protein as energy. Being in a state of ketosis does not imply that one is consuming one's own muscle mass for energy.

Ketosis is not a last resort. It is the natural state of metabolic activity for a primary carnivore. Eating carbohydrates as a primary source of energy has only happened for about 10,000 years. But there have been about 300,000 generations of human beings. The vast majority of human history was spent eating meat primarily.

A dieter who eats 2500 calories from fat and protein will not waste away the same way an anorexic person (who likely eats closer to 500 calories a day) will. The Atkins dieter will get a steady supply of energy throughout the day, as opposed to the spikes and dips a carbohydrate eater will feel. It is not ketosis that causes an anorexic's wasting. Ketosis is merely a side-effect of needing to consume their body tissues for energy, as opposed to the Atkin's dieter who consumes sufficient energy from food.

The Atkins diet does not "trick" your body into thinking it is starving. Quite the opposite. It is carbohydrate "addiction" that tricks the body into thinking it is starving. Carbohydrate "addiction" tricks your body into thinking it needs more energy, despite the fact that it obviously does not need it (indeed, you are putting on pounds and are still hungry). The metabolism of consuming carbohydrates interferes with our natural metabolic processes.

Jose Pelaez's picture

It is impossible to lose more than 3 pounds of fat a week.

It is impossible to lose more than 3 pounds of fat a week.

As I always say:

It is better to lose fat slowly but in a healthy way, that much weight.

Duh Winning's picture

FDA Reports Ambulance and Firetrucks are Bad for your Health

The FDA after extensive scientific studies of fatal car accidents noted the prevalent factor in all automobile fatalities was the sudden appearance and onset of Emergency Vehicles. The FDA therefore concluded that the appearance of Emergency Vehicles increased the likelihood of fatal car accidents. With such well studied research, the FDA has released its official recommendation that if one is in an automobile accident, one should refrain from notifying Emergency Assistance. This research and common understanding was the established by the Top Scientific minds of the 1940's, so their research should be well trusted and the basis for modern medical understanding. Those early researchers initially had a rough go of convincing the commone thinking of their time, as the Top Scientific minds of their previous generation had scientifically established that Leaches were the cure all to automobile accidents.

Dr Ian Malcolm: "I'll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you're using here: it didn't require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility... for it. You stood on the shoulders of 'geniuses' to accomplish something as fast as you could and before you even knew what you had you patented it and packaged it and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you're selling it, you want to sell it"

Dr Ian Malcolm: "Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should... uh...or... if, perhaps, the scientific knowledge that they were building upon was even truly accurate or presented a sound foundation. Again, they simply blindly leapt forward from the shoulders of those that came before them without ever looking back."

Theo's picture

Fat Burning Hormones

I do like your article, however I have found that the Aitkins diet gets people in a bit of a mind trap; carbs = bad. And although this has a lot of truth in it, the method is outdated. It has less to do with the type of food group you eat and more to do with food combining, moderate exercise and adequate rest and sleep. Most modern diets build this in.

Since the Aitkin diet studies have been done that following a particular food group will put a lot of strain on your liver. When the liver is under stress, it releases the wrong signals to the body which can slow down metabolism. So even if someone follows the Aitkin diet to perfection, they will hit a weight loss plateau with fatigue simptoms and the inability to maintain initial good results. Certain carbs and fats are essential to the proper functioning of the liver. Modern diets recognise that the fats in avocado and olive oil(uncooked) are beneficial to the liver and can be used moderately in weight loss programs. Generally avoiding processed foods of any sort is the way to go when it comes to what we now know about loosing weight.

I hope this contributes to the conversation.

Jennie's picture

I TOTALLY agree with Theo.

I TOTALLY agree with Theo. And also, for myself, I found that every diet I tried before put way too much stress on me because I thought I would never be able to eat some of my favorite foods ever again. Now, I eat extremely healthy and smaller meals most of the time and indulge in cake and ice cream every now and then. I found that if I know that I can eat whatever food I want every few weeks or so, I can resist temptations as they come. And of course, I do exercise 4 to 5 times a week. But so far, it's been working for me. I LOVE Joseph Hick's article on Ezine, he talks about the same kind of mentality but goes in to more detail about which foods to stick with and which to avoid and some more about the overweight psychology. Here it is if you're interested, thought it was a good read.

hcg diet scottsdale's picture

Many people incorrectly

Many people incorrectly believe that the Atkins Diet promotes eating unlimited amounts of fatty meats and cheeses. This is a key point of clarification that Dr. Atkins addressed in the more recent revisions of his book. Although the Atkins Diet does not impose limits on certain foods, or caloric restriction in general, Dr. Atkins points out in his book that this plan is "not a license to gorge.

Another common misconception arises from confusion between the Induction Phase and rest of the diet. The first two weeks of the Atkins Diet are strict, with only 20g of carbohydrates permitted per day. Atkins states that a dieter can safely stay at the Induction Phase for several months if the person has a lot of weight to lose. Once the weight-loss goal is reached, carbohydrate levels are raised gradually, though still significantly below USDA norms, and still within or slightly above the definition of ketosis.

Anonymous's picture

It is very interesting that

It is very interesting that NOT ONE of the references used in this article was from a primary journal. Any academic knows this should be where the majority, if not all, reliable clinical evidence should come from. Website resources are notoriously unreliable: any unqualified person can write anything they want without corroboration, whereas evidence from primary journals is peer-reviewed and reproducible, thus generally far superior than web sources.
It may be interesting for some readers unsure of the Atkins diet to refer to the study quoted in Annals of Internal Medicine in September 2009, where obese individuals with Type II diabetes on a low-carb Mediterranean diet achieved much healthier results in weight loss, better glucose control and reduced cardiovascular risks than obese individuals with Type II diabetes on a low-fat diet.

Anonymous's picture

I have been on Atkins for 4

I have been on Atkins for 4 weeks and I updated my own version of it and lost 20 pounds ! 11 pounds was fat - wow ! I am now back up to 50 carbs a day and still going up in carbs each week . My doctor said I may be able to reach 70 carbs a day to until I lose my last 10 pounds that may take only 5 weeks ! My God Atkins seems good for me and works for me .

I have a feeling once I reach my target I will be able to go up to 100 carbs a day .

Atkins worked for me and I only tried it once ! Some say diets don't work but I say they do work if your fed up and ready to change for a healthy life style .

One big thing that helps me enjoy my new life style is the ability to treat myself to whatever I want on Sunday ( oreo cookies fast food and some more oreo cookies ) then for the next 6 days im back on trax ..

Atkins you can tweak out to work for you -- And enjoy something sweet and unhealthy once a week ! Pick a day where your all about unhealthy choices .

Max's picture


I personally used this diet and found it did not work at all. I ate 6 to 7 steaks a day but avoided any carbohydrates. I gain 92 pounds in 3 weeks. This diet sucks!

Anonymous's picture

Six to seven steaks a day?

Six to seven steaks a day? And your surprised you gained weight? Keep in mind that you can't eat an unlimited amount of calories and think that its not going to cause weight gain. Its still abount calories in and calories burned.

Anonymous's picture

92 lbs in 3 weeks is impossible. 7 steaks a day is impossible.

Uh, guys, this post is made up. Stop and think about it. 92 pounds in three weeks?

As to the less obviously silly criticisms of Atrkins: anyone who has tried this diet knows that one of the effects is that you actually lose your desire for meat and your consumption drops.

I've used the diet and it works. It's hardly perfect; it's a lot less enjoyable and tougher to stick to than its proponents claim; it's not the way I'd have preferred to get from Point A to Point B. But what a lot of its critics conveniently (and I think intentionally) ignore is that the two-week detox period at the beginning of the diet is only that: a short temporary phase. It is not the whole diet and the diet as a whole does NOT call upon dieters to make high-fat/zero-carbs a permanent thing. (Don't tell me "yes it does!" No, it doesn't. If you think so you're either ignorant or just lying.)

Critics latch onto the statement "you can eat all the fat you want" and misrepresent that advanced Atkins dieters are snarfing sticks of butter. These people haven't read the diet through and do not wish to be swayed from criticism by the facts of the diet's methodology. A central idea of Atkins is that there are good carbs (fruits and vegetables, some whole grains, and high-protein foods to which carbs are incidental, like beans and nuts) and there are bad carbs (candy, soda, white bread, pasta). Advanced Atkins stages are not essentially identical what nutritionists broadly recommend: they allow the good carbs in moderation and eliminate the bad carbs.

A second mistake critics make is thinking that Atkins' counsel "not to worry about fat" is a nutritional statement that too much fat is no problem. In fact the counsel is merely advance notice that fat consumption takes care of itself if you watch bad carbs. Bad carbs actually make us hungry and lead us to consume more fat; without the hunger-making sugar swings caused by bad carbs, too much fat (whether from a stick of butter or 7 steaks a day) is actually nauseating. The desire to consume too much fat diminishes if one stays away from bad carbs. Hence fat consumption is not a worry because it takes care of itself - provided that one sticks to the diet.

All Atkins is, really, is a nutritional gimmick backed up by good salesmanship. It's the same responsible diet we've been told to eat for years - it just offers a nontraditional way of getting us to that responsible diet.

People need to look at the big picture here: if you are a big fat tub of goo, your gooness is going to make you sick and sad and dead. However you get out of that cycle, short of drug use, is good. Atkins is a good diet for you if it gets you there. For a lot of fat people, the more medically and nutritionally-approved ways of getting there JUST DON'T WORK; Atkins' initial phases may not be very healthy in themselves, but to the degree they lead Person X to a healthier result when nothing else will, they are immune to criticism. Healthier results by unhealthier means trump unhealthy failure via healthy means every single time. Every single time. The eating regimen that achieves results is the best, period.

Anonymous's picture

Okay, this comment is

Okay, this comment is statistically an outlier (or really, in this case and outLIAR). Even a person with a Basal Metabolic Rate of (say) 1500 Kcal/day would require a caloric intake of over 19000 Kcal PER DAY (Math: 92 lbs/21 days X 4000 Kcal/lb caloric intake + 1500 Kcal BMR expenditures).

Having been "into" bodybuilding in the past--consuming 5000 Kcal per day was difficult, but not impossible. The most potent weight-gain shake around is about 2200 Kcal per serving, and it's so thick, you can almost eat it like ice-cream---I don't know many people that can eat a GALLON of ice cream over a period of a day!

I was on a strict Atkin's-like diet for about 6 weeks--dropped from 193 lbs to 165 lbs in that time and went from a snug-fitting 34" jean to a roomy 30" jean in that time.

A typical (even fatty) steak has less than 500 Kcal--so, 6-7 steaks only amounts to about 3500 Kcal per day.

Anonymous's picture

why whould you eat

6 to 7 steaks a day?!? that has to cancle all effects that avoiding carbs does come on think if it does not seem smart don't do it

Calleigh Finch's picture

It's easy to be negative

The health and other benefits of doing Atkins depend on the dieter. *Every* diet is unhealthy, according to nutritionists. I agree the best thing would be to eat 1800 calories a day and exercise. Truth is, this is very hard to achieve with today's fast-paced life and genetically modified food.

What the "researchers" neglect to take in consideration is that Atkins has four phases, and only the first two (which in total last for one month) are extremely limiting in terms of carbs (20-25 carbs a day, mainly from vegetables). In the later phases, a person can have balanced meals.

I eat much better when on Atkins. I usually eat a piece of fruit in the morning, a lunch consisting of a small piece of meat, lots of green veggies and a salad, and a dinner of low-fat cottage cheese and a tomato. This is much better then what I eat when I am not on Atkins, when I would have milk and toast sandwich for breakfast, no veggies but some salad and pasta and meat for lunch, pizza for dinner (with the addition of chocolate and similar).

It is untrue that people on Atkins live off of meat and cheese and eggs. Actually, they probably eat less meat then before, leaner meats as well (chicken, turkey), more vegetables and salads, and in the end consume much fewer calories (1500-1700 a day).

Sample menu:
Breakfast: A cup of strawberries with a few blueberries mixed in (6 carbs)
Lunch: Steamed turkey fillet, two cups cauliflower, one cup spinach, salad (7 carbs)
Dinner: Egg-white omelette with cottage cheese and radishes (4 carbs)
Snack: Almonds (1 oz, 3 carbs)
Calories: <1400

This sample menu even falls under the first, induction phase of Atkins, where 20 carbs is daily limit. Sounds so artery-clogging and kidney-killing, right?

Anonymous's picture

Seriously? Is that menu

Seriously? Is that menu supposed to actually satisfy a person? I've never done any of these fad diets and am only researching them for a school project. I am a very ideal weight, eat high-fibre, well-balanced meals (with primarily whole grain carbs!) and lead an active lifestyle. Living that way has always felt natural to me. I could not imagine ever feeling satisfied eating like that ALL the time though! And that sounds NOTHING like the recommendations the Atkins diet makes. I'm often called a "health-freak" with the way I eat, but even I think you must be starving by lunch eating such a tiny bowl of fruit for breakfast. I love berries and take in as many as possible in my diet, and I just let myself eat as many as I want! They are cancer-preventing, low in calories, high in vitamins and just all around excellent for your body! Why would you limit yourself to a small bowl in the morning? It just doesn't make any sense to me. Our bodies need these kinds of foods! Why limit them? And limiting vegetables too? It's just seems so very wrong. All these amazing, extremely healthy foods we have access to, and you deny your body of them. I'm not saying you don't have the right idea in the way you are eating, it just seems so...well, boring and lacking in any excitement. Live a little! Eat that pizza for dinner once in a while!!!

Anonymous's picture

to the people saying "just

to the people saying "just reduce the amount of fat in the diet if you're worried about heart risks"... ok.. and get your calories from where exactly? if you cut out carbs and cut out fat, you're pretty much left eating chicken every day. The whole point of healthy living is balance and moderation. Too many carbs will make you fat.. too much fat will put your cardiovascular system at risk. Too much fibre will mess with your digestive system. The Atkins diet, like all ketogenic type diets may be effecive in the short term for water expulsion and bodyfat %age reduction, which is probably why so many body builders use them for the weeks running up to a competition.

But the simple fact is this.. they are called "essential" food groups because they are just that. Cut carbs out of your diet completely and indefinitely and you will suffer more side effects than the dehydration mentioned above, you will lack energy overall, feel lethargic, develop halitosis, constipation and other conditions.

Anybody going on a ketogenic diet, whether it be Atkins or otherwise, should seek the help of a professional dietician. Too many people go simply on what someone writes in a book. Someone who is vague about their own work, and someone who has made no effort to research the long term effects of their work.

Anonymous's picture

The Atkins' Diet: Friend or Foe?

When I see comments like "Think about it, how can a diet which would rather promote you eating bacon, cheese, all the fat you want, rather than an apple be healthy? " I shake my head. Anyone who has actually taken the time to read and understand the Atkins diet would not be afraid of it or make these rediculous comments. The first 2 weeks will shock the system but there is no mention of pigging out and gorging yourself on fat. I had green salad and portioned sliced pork, beef as well as eggs and cheese and felt great. If you don't normally eat 20 hot dogs and 2 lbs of cheese in a day then why would you start. Once your body quits craving carbs, the hunger goes away and you're quite satisfied with small portions. After 2 weeks the diet takes you into a familiar diet that has been around and safe for years....THE DIEBETIC DIET. Measured intake of starch and carbs with healthy portions of vegetables, meat, fish, chicken, fruit like strawberries and blueberries etc. People only gain the weight back when they gorge themselves on the carbs they avoided and fall back into the unhealthy patterns that got them the weight problem in the first place. Stop the doom and gloom and read the plan. Get off the couch and go for a walk once in a while as well.

Sean's picture

Atkins = Mostly Water Weight

While I do believe that Atkins can help you lose weight the major reasons are two fold:

1.) When you stop replenishing your glycogen stores by eliminating carbs then your body uses the glycogen in your body. Glycogen also has a good deal of water that binds to it. When you lose glycogen, you lose water. And water weighs quite a bit. So you'll lose weight rapidly at the beginning, but it's mostly water weight and not really much "real" weight.

2.) Eating only fat and protein is not really that easy to do, and you'll have to cook more, find more foods that fit in with your plan, and also fat and protein are more filling. What does that mean? It ultimately means you'll eat less calories. And we know that less calories = weight loss in most cases.

Those 2 reasons are the main reasons why Atkins works for many people. But you really don't have to use it to see great success.

Mainly, you should become more consious of your calorie intake.

A specific "diet" is not usually necessary to get great results.

Have fun!

Anthony's picture

Little info.

I went from 390 to 220 over 9 months doing atkins. So what your saying is that all 170lbs of my weight loss is water weight. Not so. To truly understand how the diet works you have to have some idea of the chemistry behind it and you obviously dont. The first 10-20 lbs is water weight the rest is fat. When you do a low carb diet your body starts burning fat through ketosis. Some of the protein you take in goes through gluconegenesis where it is turned into glucose but only up to a few grams.The resulting left over carbon chain only aids in weight loss. your blood sugar doesnt drop because your not producing enough insulin to lower your blood sugar because your not taking in carbs. The fat you take in is burned just like the fat on your body so it never has a chance to do any damage. Also you have to have fats, even saturated fats to produce essential hormones in your body. The food pyramid is wrong. 300g's of carbs, almost no fat and moderate protein is not a balanced diet. Oh and i kept my diet at above 2500 calories while i lost all 170lbs. Why would you wanna starve your self and get minimal results when you can actually eat, lose weight and its safe as long as you drink a decent amount of water.

Yamie's picture

just started the diet

have a question with regards to the Ketosis process!!! THANKS

Serendip Visitor's picture

whats your question?

whats your question?

lol's picture


Here's what i think. I have been on this diet since I was 24, i'm 28 now. Ask yourself why heart disease, cancer and all of the other illness wasnt around before there was a huge surge of processed foods and processed sugar? The atkins diet is healthy and is a way of life for me. One of the major pessimists of this diet is the government, I don't know about you but I don't trust everything the government has to say; do you?

Anonymous's picture

Wake up

The atkins diet has been condemned again and again and again by any respected nutritioinal or medical authoritative body you can think of. You lose weight in the short term all while in the long term your insides are being destroyed. This article is dead on - eat a balanced diet and exercise.

There are no shortcuts to real healthy weight loss and physical well-being. No matter what new diet fad shows up on the book stands next week it all boils down to the same thing - real weight control means Calories In = Calories Out. Yes, this means exercise. No Shortcuts...sorry to break it to you.

Think about it, how can a diet which would rather promote you eating bacon, cheese, all the fat you want, rather than an apple be healthy?

Oh well, I guess you'll look nice and trim in your coffin.

Jutes's picture

I agree 100% with what you

I agree 100% with what you say here. You make some great points here. There is no shortcut.

Also, how in heavens name can fruit, for example, be bad when it was part of our ancestral diet for hundreds of thousands of years? The ability to utilize nutrients from fruit is hardcoded into our genomes! Carbs are not the enemy! Highly processed carbs maybe, but that's just common sense anyway...

Now, exercise. Of course its necessary. Cardiovascular workouts and any exercise for that matter lowers the risk of heart disease, for example. A fairly recent study showed that *obese* women that do some form of exercise has almost 50% lower heart disease risk than obese women that do not exercise. That's quite compelling given that obesity itself is a major heart health hazard.

So can a 'skinny' person that relies *only* on fad diets be unhealthier than an slightly overweight person that exercises regularly and eats a sensible diet? I think so.

Serendip Visitor's picture

The fruit you are eating

The fruit you are eating today is nothing like it was even 100 years ago. The sugar content in many modern strains of apples and oranges have been modified to have far larger amounts of sugar/fructose.

Brenda's picture

I went on the Atkins and

I went on the Atkins and lost 60 lbs in 6 months. I looked great and felt great. Results, we decided to have a baby. I went off the diet, (not healthy for baby), had the baby, got pregnant again and have been struggling with my weight ever since. I've heard lots of bad reports of Atkins and didn't want to chance it but now I think I'll give it a go again and like one anomymous writer said, try modifying the diet. So that's what I'm gonna do.

Anonymous's picture

I had a friend...

who once told me, that when he was growing up on the farm, and they wanted to fatten up the livestock, they would feed them extra carbohydrates, and it worked every time.

Anonymous's picture

The low carb diet is modifiable

I dont understand why people always say the fat and cholesterol in these diets is what will kill you. You simply modify the stupid plan so that its low fat as well, as low carb. Are we that dumb and easy to confuse? If half a pound of bacon a day will kill you in 10 years of heart disease, then simply don't eat half a pound of bacon!!!! Eat a couple of slices and don't eat it everyday! Eat veggie burgers (2 grams of usuable carbs per serving) instead of hamburger patties, use low fat cheese. Atkins has a great plan, so does Michael and Mary Dan Eides (Protein Power Lifeplan, has the modifications built in). C'mon, if the plan works use it!!!! If it too high in fat, then modify it!!! Use your imagination, and try some new products. Geez!!!!

Kaden's picture

Just the nutrients in right

Just the nutrients in right meal alone are enough to induce the benefits your body. Diet4idiots are doing the same with their diet program. This is giving very good results