Atkins Diet: The Benefits, the Side Effects, and the Success Stories

Atkins Diet: Everything You Need To Know- The Benefits and the Risks

Atkins Diet: Everything You Need To Know- The Benefits and the Risks

Atkins diet is a fad diet developed by the late physician, Dr. Robert C. Atkins. In 1972, he wrote a book about the diet. It is popular for its carbohydrates restricting rules. Dr. Atkins limited his patients’ intake of carbohydrates and sugar. This helped a lot of his patients lose weight. They had previously been unsuccessful on other low-calorie diets.

The underlying idea of the Atkins diet is to limit carbohydrates and sugar intake. This allows the body burn fat (including body fat) for fuel. This approach leaves the body steadily fueled and people on the diet lose weight even when they consume more calories. There is also an increase in energy levels throughout the day leading to less cravings for food.

Proponents of the Atkins diet claim that eating lots of fats and protein and fat will lead to weight long. Weight loss will only occur as long as you limit your intake of foods high in carbohydrates.

In the past decade, several studies have shown that diets low in carbohydrates can aid weight loss and has several health benefits (1).

Health authorities originally considered Atkins diet to be unhealthy mostly due to the presence of high saturated fat(2). However, new research shows that saturated fat is not harmful. Since then, new studies show that the diet causes weight loss more than low-fat diets. It also improves blood sugar, triglycerides and the “good” cholesterol (HDL).


One-year Study Claims Atkins Diet May Be As Effective And Safe As Conventional Diets;Researcher Says.


There are numerous health benefits of Atkins diet. See some of these benefits listed below.

Atkins Diet  Benefits

While they’re not a good fit for everybody, researchers have linked low-carb diets like the Atkins diet to several health benefits, including:



Atkins Diet: The Benefits, the Side Effects, and the Success Stories

Which Foods Should You Include on the Atkins Diet?

If you want to lose weight, your meals should contain the following Atkins diet recipes.

  • Meats including pork, beef, chicken, bacon, and others.
  • Low-carb vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, cauliflower, etc.
  • Fatty fish and seafood like trout, salmon, sardines, etc.
  • Full-fat dairy including cheese, butter, heavy cream, full-fat yogurt, etc.
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Healthy fats found in olives, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and avocados.
  • Fruits: Apples, pears, oranges.
  • Drinks like coffee, water, and green tea.
  • Shrimp and shellfish.
  • Berries
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Condiments like pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, parsley, etc.


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Foods that Should not Be Found on an Atkins Diet Food List

If you are on the Atkins diet, you should not eat these foods.

  • Food and Drinks with high Sugar content like fruit juices, soft drinks, cookies, ice cream, cakes, candy, etc.
  • Grains like wheat, rye, rice, and barley.
  • Trans-fats or hydrogenated fats found in processed foods.
  • Vegetable oils like corn oil, Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, etc.
  • High-carb fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas (in the induction stage only).
  • High-carb vegetables like turnips, carrots, etc (in the induction stage only).
  • Legumes including chickpeas, beans, and lentils. (In the induction stage only).
  • Starches found in pasta, potatoes, bread, etc (in the induction stage only).


Atkins Diet: Everything You Need To Know- The Benefits and the Risks

Atkins Diet: Everything You Need To Know


The Atkins Diet is a 4-Phase Plan

To completely undergo the Atkins diet, you have to go through these 4 phases:

  • The Phase 1 (induction):  This is when you help your body switch from burning carbs to fat. We call this process ketosis, and you should notice weight loss quickly. Here, you consume less than 20 grams of carbs each day for 14 days. Eat high-protein, high-fat, with low-carb veggies like leafy greens. This marks the beginning of weight loss. Some people (like vegetarians) should skip this phase.
  • Phase 2 (on-going weight loss/balancing): Slowly start including low-carb vegetables, more nuts and small amount of fruits to your diet.
  • The Phase 3 (pre-maintenance/fine-tuning): When you are close to achieving your desired weight, start including more carbohydrates in your diet until weight loss slows down.
  • Phase 4 (lifetime maintenance): In this phase, you can consume a lot of healthy carbohydrates so far your body can handle it, without gaining lost weight back. You will follow this for the rest of your life, to ensure that you don’t gain back what you’ve lost.

You should be able to lose weight as long as you strictly follow the diet. Below is an example of an Atkins diet menu. It is recommended for phase 1 (induction phase), but you should include higher-carb, fruits and veggies as you progress to the other 3 phases.


  • Breakfast: Vegetables and eggs fried in coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad cooked with olive oil and a handful of nuts for snacks.
  • Dinner: Vegetables and Steak.


  • Breakfast: Eggs and Bacon.
  • Lunch: Leftover chicken and vegetables from the previous night.
  • Dinner: Cheeseburger (without the bun), alongside butter and veggies.


  • Breakfast: Veggies and Omelet fried in butter.
  • Lunch: Shrimp salad prepared with olive oil.
  • Dinner: Ground beef stir-fry, with vegetables.


  • Breakfast: Veggies and eggs fried in coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Extra stir-fry from the previous night’s dinner.
  • Dinner: Salmon, butter, and veggies.


  • Breakfast: Eggs and bacon.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad cooked with olive oil and a handful of nuts for snacks.
  • Dinner: Meatballs and veggies.


  • Breakfast: Omelet mixed with a variety of veggies, fried in butter.
  • Lunch: Extra meatballs from the previous night.
  • Dinner: Pork chops with veggies.


  • Breakfast: Eggs and bacon.
  • Lunch: Extra pork chops from the previous night’s dinner.
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken wings with vegetables and some salsa.


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Healthy Low-Carb Snacks for an Atkins Diet

A lot of people on the Atkins diet usually lack the appetite to eat much food. 2-3 meals per day tend to satisfy their hunger.

However, if you get hungry in between meals, below are some quick healthy snacks you can try:

  • 1 or 2 boiled eggs.
  • A handful of nuts.
  • Some greek yogurt.
  • A piece of meat.
  • A piece of cheese.
  • Baby carrots (after induction stage)
  • Berries and whipped cream.
  • Fruits (after induction).


Some people choose to ignore phase 1 (induction phase) and include plenty of fruits and veggies in their diet from the beginning. This method also gives the desired result as well.

Others prefer to just stay in the induction phase indefinitely.

Atkins 40


Atkins Diet: Everything You Need To Know- The Benefits and the Risks

  Image source – (Atkins 40 )



A newer version of Atkins, called Atkins 40, has more relaxed rules and allows you to start with 40 grams of carbs in the daily diet. It doesn’t exclude any food groups at first, as Atkins 20 does.

There are limits to the amount of butter or fats that you should eat, but no strict guidelines for meats or other proteins.


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Atkins Diet Side Effects

Despite the health benefits Atkins diet have to offer, it also has some side-effects. According to Belfasttelegraph high-protein diet, low carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins diet could actually increase the risk of weight gain and death, the results of a study have suggested(4). Keep in mind that Atkins diet may cause possible side effects or worsened symptoms in some people, including:

  • Trouble exercising due to weakness as a result of low carb intake.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Digestive problems, such as constipation, nausea, and dehydration (usually due to low fiber intake).
  • Indigestion due to eating too much fat.
  • When you reduce carb intake, the serotonin levels in your body drop. This causes Irritability or mood swings.
  • Bad breath.
  • Some protein sources in an atkins diet like fatty cuts of meat, whole dairy products can raise cholesterol, increasing your chance of heart disease (5) . However, studies showed that people on the Atkins diet for up to 2 years actually had decreased “bad” cholesterol levels(6).
  • Atkins diet causes kidney problems.
  • It increases the risks of osteoporosis and kidney stones.
  • People who eat meat every day have three times greater risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Possible regaining of weight.
  • Low extent of vitamins and minerals which can lead to nutritional deficiency.
  • Possible lack of energy or weakness as a result of low calories intake.
  • Potential for digestive problems such as nausea, constipation, and dehydration.
  • Low level of concentration.
  • Not suitable for vegetarians or women who are nursing.


Atkins Diet: Everything You Need To Know- The Benefits and the Risks


Atkins Diet vs Keto Diet:

Two of the most popular low-carb diets today is the Atkins and ketogenic (keto) diets. Apart from being low in carbohydrates, these two diets share many similarities. For example, there is a general belief that Atkins diet is the induction phase of the ketogenic diet. However, they are not the same.

Both diets embrace ketosis and research show that they benefit a fair percentage of people that undertake them (7). However, the fact that the process of Atkins diet carries with it the seeds of potential “relapse” is understandably enough to turn some people away. Dieting, after all, is difficult enough, without putting your body through major changes for no reason.

Below is a side by side comparison of known issues with the 2 diets so you can better understand the important ways in which they differ.


Carbohydrate Levels

Atkins Diet: It changes from phase to phase, starting with drastic reductions followed by gradual re-introduction.

Keto Diet: There is a fixed diet level which is approximately 10% of average consumption.


Carbohydrate Monitoring Method

Atkins Diet: Net Carbohydrates

Keto Diet: Total Carbohydrates



Atkins Diet: Atkins and ketosis is a 4 phase process where you remove carbs from your diet then gradually reintroduce them.

Keto Diet: Once you achieve nutritional ketosis, optimal carb, fat and protein levels are sustained.


Ketone Production

Atkins Diet: Here, ketones are at highest levels during phase 1. After that, you slowly ratchet ketosis back.

Keto Diet: Optimal production levels are maintained throughout the diet plan.


Protein Intake

Atkins Diet: 4 to 6-ounce servings of protein three times a day.

Keto Diet: About 1 gram of protein for each kilogram of bodyweight.



Fat Intake

Atkins Diet: Fats serve as calories of last resort after consumption of protein and carbohydrates.

Keto Diet:  There is a significant fat intake. Fats are present in about 75% of daily food intake.



Time when Individual reaches Ketosis

Atkins Diet: Those on the diet achieve ketosis in phase 1.

Keto Diet: Totally depends on the individual.

Read-Keto Diet Plan Recipes That Will Make You Lose Weight in 7 Days


Atkins Diet Reviews by Experts

A lot of medical authorities have warned against Atkins diet over the years, even till date.
In 1973, The Chair of Harvard’s nutrition department claimed before a Senate committee investigating fad diets that Atkins Diet is very dangerous to human health. In their words, “It is nonsense”

Former United States Surgeon, General Everett Koop also claims the Atkins diet is dangerous and not healthy(9)

The American Dietic Association (ADA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have been letting Americans know about the health risks associated with the Atkins diet for over 3 decades now. In the ADA’s words, “the Atkins diet is a nightmare of a diet”(10, 11)

The American Medical Association also criticized the Atkins diet. They published an official condemnation in that regard (12). The association carried out a scientific appraisal on Atkins diet and came to a conclusion that it is a serious threat to people’s health.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no major government or non-profit nutrition or medical association that is in support of the Atkins diet. Other major bodies against the Atkins diet include; The American Cancer Society, John Hopkins School of Medicine, the American Kidney Fund, the Cleveland Clinic, the American Heart Association and many others (13,14, 15, 16).

According to a research conducted by U.S. News, Atkins diet is only useful for short-term weight loss (17). It, however, got low ratings for long term weight loss. The result showed Atkins diet increases chances of diabetes, to be unsafe and to be low in nutrition. There were also conclusions that the Atkins diet is difficult to follow and is not healthy for the human heart(18).

However, despite these criticisms, there are a lot of success stories by people on the Atkins diet on the internet. You can check some of these stories (19).


Atkins Diet: Everything You Need To Know- The Benefits and the Risks

Atkins Diet Food List


If you’re serious about the Atkins diet, I recommend you visit Atkins web so as to find the plan that best suits you and simply get started as soon as possible(20).

Seriously, as I said before, the studies regarding what’s considered an advantage and a disadvantage of Atkins diet are highly inconclusive. For most people, though, the Atkins diet is an easy and effective way to lose weight and feel better.


For more information about Phase1( induction) watch this video for 1bigimpact



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Just evaluate whether you’re comfortable with the possible negative aspects and go for it. Also, don’t forget to see a doctor find out if the Atkins diet is right for you.

That being said, the detailed guide in this article should contain everything you need to succeed.

What is your best weight loss diet? Have you used Keto diet or Aktins diet for weight loss before? Please, let’s know your weight loss success stories. Let’s discuss in the comment box below. Thanks!


  1. Deborah January 25, 2018
    • Sarah January 25, 2018

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