The Atkins Diet: Everything You Need to Know

The Atkins Diet: Everything You Need to Know
The Atkins diet is one of the most notorious and controversial diets due to misconceptions, rumors, and erroneous articles about it. 

However, despite the controversies, there are still a lot of people following the said diet due to its efficacy and health benefits. So what are you going to believe? It’s a good idea for you to know more about it so you can decide for yourself.


Introduction to the Public

Atkins's diet, popularly known as a low-carb diet, has been promoted to the public by a cardiologist, Dr. Robert Atkins, in 1958. Due to his overweight condition, Dr. Atkins had research solutions and has read about Dr. Alfred W. Pennington’s report in the Journal of the American Medical 

Association, titled ‘Weight Reduction’. Dr. Atkins followed the diet and decided to promote it in his book ‘Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, was released in 1972.

Dr. Atkins has also written a second book about Atkins's diet in 2002, “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution.

Most Recent Book

The most recent book about this low-carb diet was published in 2010 by three doctors, namely Dr. Eric C. Westman, M.D., Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, M.D., and Dr. Jeff S. Votek, Ph. D. The doctors have incorporated the advances in nutrition and science that had been discovered in the past decade to come up with a new and revolutionary book called ‘The New Atkins for a New You’. 

The book also covered nutritious foods that were not included in the early books of Dr. Atkins. Because of this, Atkins's diet has been more wholesome for a wider variety of followers.


A cookbook has also been released in 2011 to help promote proper nutrition and to help the followers of this low-carb diet to create simple recipes that have the number of calories, fats, and nutrients that they need on a daily basis. 

The cookbook called ‘The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook’ was created by Colette Heimowitz to help make this diet easier to follow, despite the meticulous process of counting all the calories that need to be consumed daily.


Atkins's diet is a simple low-carb diet that has many misconceptions. Because of this, it is vital to be enlightened regarding its nature so that dieters can follow it properly without risking their health. 

Because this low-carb diet has been thought to be really hard to follow due to the restrictions on the amount of food that dieters can consume on a daily basis, many individuals had decided to stick to easier diets or to give up even during the first week of the diet plan.

The misconception that this diet also allows no restrictions on the number of fats that dieters can consume has also caused confusion to a lot of weight watchers. 

It is true that fat and protein are encouraged in this diet but Dr. Atkins recommended that foods containing fat and protein are consumed in moderation. 

Thus, this diet does not cause excess fat and protein intake, which may cause adverse effects on the body.

If all dieters will understand and know the nature of this diet, it would be possible to take the not-so-tough route and gain faster and more satisfying results from this dietary regimen. 

This low-carb diet only restricts excessive carbohydrate intake as it is believed that excessive carbs cause excessive weight and other health problems. 

Thus, this dietary regimen does promote healthy weight loss without jeopardizing a dieter’s health.


The Atkins diet has also been a subject of rumors since Dr. Atkins passed away in 2003. Even though the true cause of death of Dr. Atkins had been due to blunt trauma in his head and not due to cardiovascular problems due to his diet, rumors have persisted that the cardiologist died from his own diet.

Dr. Atkins slipped on ice when he was going to work, which resulted in a fatal injury that caused his death. And despite the rumors that the cardiologist was unhealthy when he met the tragic accident, hospital records had shown that the doctor had been very healthy and was at his ideal weight.

A rumor that Dr. Atkins had a cardiovascular problem due to his diet also spread in 2000 when his cardiologist diagnosed Dr. Atkins had cardiomyopathy. 

But his cardiologist had made it clear that the condition had nothing to do with his diet and Dr. Atkins had a very healthy body and cardiovascular system. 

Thus, Dr. Atkins’ condition was not caused by his diet. However, the rumors are still persistent and kept on being spread.

Brief Explanation

The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet that intends to switch the body’s metabolism from using glucose as its source of energy to have the body use the stored fat in its system to produce energy. 

This is possible through the process of ketosis. This phenomenon happens when the dieter suddenly cuts back on carbohydrate consumption over a period of time. 

Because there is not enough carbohydrate to supply a sufficient amount of energy to the body, the body resorts to other sources of energy, the fat, and protein reserve. 

Thus, the dieter will be able to lose weight by having their body use fat instead of carbohydrates as a source of energy.

Ketosis, which is caused by the first phase of Atkins's diet, only lasts for two weeks as the carbohydrate intake of a dieter is increased after that period of time. 

Thus, this tough stage only lasts for fourteen days. After that period, the diet of the follower will be improved and there will be additional carbohydrates will be included in the diet in the second phase of this regimen. 

The carb intake will be increased during each phase of the diet, which will make the diet easier and more agreeable as one gets deeper into the regimen. 

This means that after the rough beginning, dieters will be able to experience a more liberated and enjoyable diet regimen.


Ketosis is a phenomenon that makes Atkins's diet a success. It is the process where the body uses fat as its source of energy when carbohydrates are no longer supplied to the body’s system. 

Because insulin, the one responsible for supplying glucose as a source of energy to the body, cannot be triggered, as there is not enough glucose from carbohydrates, the body is triggered to seek other sources of energy. 

This results in having the body use its stored fat and convert it to energy.

Dieters can be aware of this occurrence in their bodies when their insulin levels drop. 

Because there is not much glucose to be processed by insulin, the insulin production in the body drops, which indicates that ketosis has started. 

Ketone bodies, which are produced when the fat reserves had been used as energy sources, would also make the breath of a dieter smell sweeter, which is another indicator of ketosis.


The Atkins diet has four phases: the Induction phase, the On-Going Weight Loss phase, the Pre-Maintenance phase, and the Maintenance phase.  

Although they are in order, a dieter can start with any phase and then go from there. This means that dieters can start at the On-Going Weight Loss phase then proceed to Pre-Maintenance then the Maintenance phase. 

But, it is recommended that people, especially individuals who need to lose a lot of weight, start from the first phase, which is the Induction phase, to achieve better results.

Induction Phase

The Induction phase is the first and most restrictive phase of the Atkins diet. This is where the carbohydrate intake is suddenly reduced to only 20 grams a day, which results in ketosis. The weight loss during this stage, which lasts for 2 weeks or more, is 5-10 pounds a week. 

This stage, though recommended to last for only two weeks, is also suggested by Dr. Atkins to be continued for a longer period of time if the body can adapt to it and if there is a lot of weight to be removed from the body.

Because of the restrictions on the amount of carbohydrate-rich foods in this phase, many followers had given up and stopped practicing the diet. 

But followers of the Atkins diet insist that new followers need to endure the two-week Induction phase so that they can move on to a better and more liberated phase, the On-Going Weight Loss phase. 

Induction is the hardest phase in the diet, which means that after this restrictive stage, dieters can start enjoying more varieties of food when they get deeper into the diet plan.

On-Going Weight Loss Phase

Even though weight loss is still ongoing through this stage, this second stage in the Atkins diet is much liberated. This means that there are more food choices that dieters can eat during this phase. 

This is also the stage when the calorie needs of a person are calculated to make it possible for them to maintain their weight forever. Because of this, dieters need to be very careful in adding carbohydrates to their diet during this stage.

The carbohydrate intake of a dieter will be increased every week, adding 5 grams of carbohydrates to the diet on a weekly basis. 

The addition of carbohydrates should be slow and careful to avoid gaining weight. This phase lasts until the dieter is only 5-10 pounds from their ideal weight. 

Thus, depending on the excess weight that needs to be gotten rid of, this stage in Atkins's diet can last for a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

Pre-Maintenance­ Phase

The third phase, the pre-maintenance phase, is less restrictive, which means that dieters can finally enjoy a lot of varieties of foods during this stage. 

More flavorful foods are added to the meal plans, which gives dieters the chance to eat mouth-watering dishes while still losing weight. 

But because there is more carbohydrate intake in this phase, the weight loss will be slow, which is safer for the body and more convenient for the dieters.

The carbohydrate intake can be increased by 10 grams per day during this phase. There are also weekly treats when dieters can consume additional 20-30 grams of carbs twice a week. This period lasts for 2-3 months.


This is the final and longest phase of the Atkins diet. The actual carbohydrate needs of a person, which were calculated during the second and third phases of the diet, will be maintained during this phase. 

This is the phase when the dieter maintains their weight by consuming only their body’s needed calories on a daily basis.

This phase lasts forever, as long as an individual wants to maintain their ideal weight. The first three phases, however, can be followed again when a dieter regains excess weight and wants to get back to their ideal weight.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The Atkins diet has a lot of advantages but there are also disadvantages that individuals can experience from this dietary regimen. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of this diet so that people can determine if this diet is for them or not.


This low-carb diet has been popular for a reason. Because it is effective and offers a lot of advantages to its followers, this dietary regimen gained popularity. 

Individuals who are interested in following this regimen should be aware of the advantages of this diet so that they will be able to evaluate the benefits that they are gaining from following this regimen.

Here are the advantages of going on this low-carb diet:

  • The Atkins diet offers a thrill to dieters because the latter can eat a lot of foods that are prohibited in other diets. Butter, cream, and steak are only some of the foods that dieters can consume moderately in this kind of diet.

Because carbohydrates were deemed to be the ones causing excess fat in the body, Dr. Atkins advocates the consumption of fatty foods and protein-rich foods in moderation. This is also to promote proper nutrition and prevent nutrient loss in a dieter’s body.

  • Atkins's diet is also easy to catch on to because it has a simple concept: carbohydrates are restricted to make the body use its fat reserves as energy to promote weight loss. Protein, fatty acids, and nutrients are then prioritized to promote good health, which makes a dieter healthier and fitter even during a very restrictive diet at the beginning of the Atkins diet regimen.
  • This low-carb dietary regimen is also advantageous because it emphasizes finding the calorie level of each person following it. Because of this, individuals can be sure that they can lose weight and maintain their ideal weight by watching the carb in their diet.
  • This revolutionary diet is also advantageous because it is quite popular. This results in having a big community of followers that support each other during the toughest phase of the diet, the Induction phase. Because of this, followers of this low-carb diet can find solace and support on forums that other followers have joined.

This is beneficial to new followers that have many questions and are still confused about what they should do to reap satisfactory results from their diet.


The Atkins diet has also some drawbacks that interested individuals should be aware of so that they will be prepared for them. 

Knowing the drawbacks will also prevent disappointment on the part of the diet followers, which will make the experience and the journey more agreeable.

Listed below are some of the disadvantages of this low-carb diet:

  • One of the drawbacks of this diet is that there are many misconceptions about it. Because it is so popular, many rumors and false claims had spread to the public, which made many individuals quit or not try it at all.
  • Atkins's diet also requires counting carbohydrates in everything that followers eat. Because of this, preparing food is often a chore and most people need to have applications, books, and guides just to know if they are consuming the right amounts of carbohydrates. But once a dieter knows how to count carbs, preparing food can be a lot simpler.
  • Another disadvantage of this low-carb diet is the ‘carb crash’ where dieters experience a lot of discomfort when they suddenly cut back on carbohydrates during the first phase of Atkins's diet. Fatigue, irritability, and shakiness are some of the symptoms that dieters will experience during a carb crash; though, these can easily be remedied by increasing the carb intake.
  • Boredom is also one of the biggest drawbacks of this diet as many people will find the diet plans to be tedious due to its carb restrictions. But this can be remedied by looking for books that contain a lot of low-carb recipes and being creative in cooking foods that are nutritious and delicious yet low on carbohydrates.

Tips When Starting This Diet

Plunging to the Atkins diet is a serious decision because it will greatly affect the lifestyle, health, and daily activities of a person. That is why it is recommended that individuals get prepared before they start following this low-carb diet.

  • Read About It

It would be very ideal to read facts about the Atkins diet so that dieters will be aware of the things that they need to do and the things that will happen to their bodies during the different phases of the diet. 

This will prevent disappointment and alarm to dieters when they notice drastic changes in their bodies when they start following this low-carb diet.

  • Know How to Count Calories

It would also be helpful if dieters will know how to count calories before they try the Atkins diet so that they can easily prepare foods that have the right amount of carbohydrates that they need. 

Even though there are a lot of cookbooks and guides on which foods should only be consumed during certain phases of the diet, it would be advantageous if a dieter can prepare recipes that are not included in the guides to prevent boredom.

  • Prepare the Foods that are included in the First Phase of the Diet

Once the decision has been made and an individual decides that they would follow the Atkins diet, it is advantageous to prepare the kinds of foods that they should consume for the first week of the diet. This will enable dieters to eat foods that are low-carb yet rich in protein and necessary nutrients.

Preparing foods in advance will prevent a dieter from using high-carb ingredients to substitute low-carb ingredients in their daily recipes. This will result in a successful diet, which will make it possible for a dieter to jump to the phase of the diet quickly.

  • Get Support

During the first weeks of the Atkins diet, it is important to get support so that dieters can endure the Induction phase. Because this is the most restrictive phase, people can get very distressed which will result in giving up and quitting the diet altogether. Thus, it would be best if dieters can talk with other followers about their hardships, which can be done by frequently visiting forums of followers, particularly the Low-Carb Diet Forum.


The Atkins diet is a very effective and beneficial dietary regimen because dieters can lose weight fast yet still receive all the nutrients that their body requires. 

Also, it is advantageous as dieters are able to maintain their ideal weight over their lifetime by following the last phase of the diet.

Followers of this dietary regimen are believed to be very healthy, which is a great indication that it not only promotes weight loss but also promotes health and fitness. 

And because dieters can determine their calorie level in the first two phases of the diet, each dieter is able to maintain their ideal weight without following the same pattern of diet, which gives dieters the freedom on what kinds of foods they are going to eat.

The Atkins diet can be really hard in the beginning but once the first phase is over, this dietary regimen is very enjoyable and beneficial to dieters who are planning on maintaining their weight and their health for the rest of their life.

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