The Atkins diet is a low carbohydrate fad diet devised by Robert Atkins in the 1970s, marketed with claims that carbohydrate restriction is crucial to weight loss and that the diet offered “a high calorie way to stay thin forever”.

There are four phases to the standard Atkins diet, also called Atkins 20.

  • Phase 1. This is when you help your body switch from burning carbs to fat. This process is called ketosis, and you should notice weight loss quickly. You’ll eat protein, fat, and only 20 grams of carbs in veggie form daily. Some people (like vegans)may start at the next phase.
  • Phase 2. You’ll add foods back to your diet, until you learn how many carbs you can eat while still losing weight.
  • Phase 3. Go to this level when you have about 10 pounds left to lose. You’ll learn how to maintain weight loss and lose the last few pounds.
  • Phase 4. You’ll follow this for the rest of your life, to ensure that you don’t gain back what you’ve lost.

Diet details

The main dietary focus of the Atkins Diet is eating the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats for optimal weight loss and health.

  • According to the Atkins Diet, obesity and related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are the fault of the typical low-fat, high-carbohydrate American diet. The Atkins Diet says that you don’t need to avoid fatty cuts of meat or trim off excess fat. Rather, controlling carbs is what’s important.
  • The Atkins Diet holds that eating too many carbohydrates — especially sugar, white flour and other refined carbs — leads to blood sugar imbalances, weight gain and cardiovascular problems. To that end, the Atkins Diet restricts carbohydrates and encourages eating more protein and fat. However, the Atkins Diet says it is not a high-protein diet.
  • Like many diet plans, the Atkins Diet continues to evolve. Now, it encourages eating more high-fiber vegetables, accommodates vegetarian and vegan needs, and addresses health problems that may arise when beginning a low-carb diet.

Foods to limit

  • sugar: found in soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes, candy, ice cream, and similar products
  • grains: wheat, spelt, rye, barley, rice
  • “diet” and “low fat” foods: are sometimes very high in sugar
  • high carb vegetables: carrots, turnips, etc.
  • high carb fruits: bananas, apples, oranges, pears, grapes
  • starches: potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc.

Foods to eat

  • meats: beef, pork, lamb, chicken, bacon, and others
  • fatty fish and seafood: salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel
  • eggs: omega-3 enriched — most nutrient-dense
  • low-carb vegetables: Kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and others
  • full-fat dairy: butter, cheese, cream, full fat yogurt
  • nuts and seeds: almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds
  • healthy fats: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and avocado oil

Some health experts believe that eating a large amount of fat and protein from animal sources, as allowed on the Atkins Diet, can increase your risk of heart disease or some cancers. However, it’s not known what risks, if any, the Atkins Diet may pose over the long term because most of the studies about it have lasted for two years or less.