Key Takeaways

What is the Atkins Diet and how does it work?

The Atkins Diet is a low-carb diet that helps with weight loss by allowing high protein and fat intake while eliminating carbohydrates. This forces the body to burn stored fat for energy, leading to weight loss and improved health benefits like better blood sugar levels and heart health.

Dieting used to consist almost exclusively of cutting calories. This meant eliminating fats and sweets. The idea has always been to remove the things that deliver calories and this is why dieting was generally not much fun. The Atkins Diet changed this thinking, and ran against convention. In the Atkins Diet, you are allowed to eat things that contain fat. It includes meats and other things that conventional dieting used to cut out.

The Atkins Diet simply came out of the insight that the things that introduce the bad calories, the kinds of calories that stick with us, are carbohydrates more than fats. By cutting out carbs, the Atkins Diet took dieting in a new and different direction and may not be properly understood. This guide will give you everything you need to know about the Atkins Diet.  

What is the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins Diet is a low-carb diet designed specifically to help with weight loss. Advocates of the Atkins Diet claim that you can lose weight while eating as much protein and fat as you like. You simply avoid all carbs, and this is how the diet induces your body to shed pounds.

Dr. Robert C. Atkins wrote his best-selling book that gave us the Atkins Diet in 1972. Over the years his diet plan has gained in popularity because so many people have found it to be effective. Numerous studies make it clear that a low-carb diet does eliminate the need to count calories. The theory is that carbohydrates, much more than fats, cause us to gain and hold weight and that removing carbs forces the calories we have stored to burn quickly.

The Atkins Diet was initially dismissed as unhealthy because it allowed for too much-saturated fat. However, more recent research has shown that saturated fat is harmless. Since its beginnings, the Atkins Diet has been shown to help people lose weight, it improves blood sugar levels, and it also helps increase levels of HDL cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol.

One of the main reasons a low-carb diet like the Atkins Diet is so effective is the reliance on high protein and low carbs tend to reduce appetite and you eat fewer calories overall. 

Purpose of an Atkins Diet

The purpose of the Atkins Diet is to induce your body into a state in which your metabolism is required to burn existing stores of calories in the form of body fat. By depriving your body of easily accessible sugars in the form of carbohydrates, your body will necessarily need to burn the stores of calories it already has. These stores are fat.

The first phase of the Atkins Diet is called the Induction Phase. In this phase, your diet must consist of under 20 grams of carbs per day for 2 weeks. Eat high-fat, high-protein, low-carb vegetables like leafy greens. This kick-starts weight loss.

Phase 2 involves slowly adding more nuts, low-carb vegetables, and small amounts of fruit back to your diet. The idea is that you will even out during this phase and weight loss happens at a healthy rate.

Phase 3 happens as you approach your weight loss goals. You can add a few more carbs during this phase.

Phase 4 you will be able to eat any amount of healthy carbs you like. Your body will have adjusted to the carb burn and by eating healthy carbs, you can sustain yourself without gaining weight again. 

Benefits of an Atkins Diet

Heart Health

Seriously reducing your carbohydrates will improve the health of your heart. The Atkins Diet can cut down triglyceride levels and boost healthy cholesterol levels. It is also known to reduce blood pressure.

Research has shown that by switching to a low-carb diet such as the Atkins Diet, you significantly reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack. Results from a low-carb diet are better than those of a low-calorie diet. 

Weight Loss

One thing is certain about the Atkins Diet, you will lose weight. People have been known to lose as much as 100 pounds by sticking with the Atkins Diet. The Atkins Diet stimulates your body’s ability to burn fat and slows its ability to retain calories in the form of fat. Since the high protein and low-carb diet also has the added effect of reducing your appetite, you will eat less. If you want to make certain you reach your weight-loss goals make sure you exercise while you are on the Atkins Diet.

Improve Blood Sugar Levels

You drastically increase your risk of heart disease with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. The Atkins Diet can improve your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels and can reduce your blood sugar levels. This is particularly acute during the Induction phase when you severely curtail your carb intake. By limiting carbs you prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. This helps even out inulin production and maintains healthy blood sugar. 

Improves Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. It is a fact that the Atkins Diet can alter the metabolic conditions that lead to metabolic syndrome. By reducing blood sugar levels, increasing metabolic rate, and facilitating the production of lean muscle, the Atkins Diet will greatly reduce the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome. 

Control Food Cravings

The main reason for food cravings is the constant shift from sugar highs to sugar lows. When our blood sugar changes in significant ways, it triggers cravings and these are often for junk food—things that give us immediate satisfaction with added processed sugar. One of the chief benefits of the Atkins Diet is it levels out blood sugar levels so that your appetite is not only diminished but also balanced. The Atkins Diet will largely eliminate food cravings that cause us to gain weight from unhealthy foods. 

Improves Brain Function

Interestingly, one of the early criticisms of the Atkins Diet is that it decreases brain function by eliminating carbs. Our brains require carbs to function properly. But once you get passed the Induction phase you will introduce large amounts of leafy greens that contain healthy carbs and also contain large amounts of B-complex vitamins that stimulate brain function. Low-carb fruits like berries also stimulate connections between brain cells and neural regeneration. 

Reduced Inflammation

On a normal level, inflammation is a natural and healthy response to injury and illness. It is your body’s way of responding to a problem and facilitating the mechanisms that allow your body to heal. But when inflammation becomes a chronic condition it leads to several diseases. Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of things like cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Some of this chronic inflammation is due to excess processed sugar and carbs found in processed foods. The Atkins diet eliminates these kinds of foods altogether and thereby reduces the tendency to develop chronic inflammation. 

Nutrition on an Atkins Diet

One of the immediate benefits of the Atkins Diet is that you will be shifting your diet to whole, unprocessed foods that are filled with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The Atkins Diet relies on nutrition to achieve your goals. Rather than the tendency to create starvation conditions associated with traditional diets, Atkins Diet is loaded with nutrition. The Atkins Diet is also heavy in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that add to the nutritional value. Your meals are filled with high-fiber and hypo-glycemic foods like fresh fruits and vegetables that help you achieve nutritional balance and help you lose weight. 

Atkins Diet and Weight Loss

It is a known fact that cutting carbs will help you lose weight. Simply cutting out foods that contain high amounts of complex sugars and carbs induces your body to burn stored calories and this means burning fat. The research has shown that cutting carbs helps you lose more weight than cutting calories.

Part of the reason for the weight loss that comes with the Atkins diet is that the Induction phase leads to lower insulin levels and this causes rapid weight loss. The Atkins Diet has the added feature of a high protein intake which is generally lacking in low calories diets. The high protein impacts your metabolism and actively reduces your hunger. Also, the low-glycemic foods that make up the healthy carbs you add once you are in the Atkins Diet help even out your blood sugar levels and this means you will not feel the need to eat snacks.

Overall, the advantages of the Atkins Diet for losing weight are evident in scientific research.  In studies that compared a low-carb diet like the Atkins Diet to other diets that rely on counting calories, researchers found that people on the Atkins Diet lost 2-3 times more weight than those on a low-cal diet without ever feeling hungry.

In another study that involved people living with obesity, researchers found that the Atkins Diet was especially effective in helping these people achieve significant weight loss. This was particularly the case in people who stayed with the Atkins Diet for at least six months. 

Side Effects of the Atkins Diet

There are some side effects noted with the Atkins Diet. These side effects are largely associated with the first phase of the diet in which you cut out all carbs. Some of these side effects can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation

In some cases, people may experience what is called ketosis. This is the condition that comes from not getting enough carbohydrates and this causes the body to break down stored fat into ketones. The symptoms of ketosis include nausea, headache, mental fatigue, and bad breath. If ketosis happens at all, it is almost always in the Induction phase of the Atkins Diet, and it will pass as you begin adding healthy carbs. 


Traditional diets always relied on the idea that cutting calories is the only way to lose weight. By reducing the number of calories we consume concerning the number of calories we burn, we end up with a net loss. The problem with these diets is that they inevitably lead to feeling hungry all the time, and we backslide.

The Atkins Diet operates on a different principle. In the Atkins Diet, you do not need to count calories at all. You simply remove carbs from your diet. You can eat as much as you like from any other category of food. By eliminating carbs and processed foods you cause your body to burn excess calories in the form of the weight you want to lose.

Another added benefit of the Atkins Diet is that the high protein that characterizes the Atkins Diet tends to make you feel less hungry. You simply do not need to eat as much. This is completely different from traditional diets that make you want to eat all the time.

There was some resistance to the effectiveness of the Atkins Diet at first. Some claimed that it simply did not work. Over the past several years research has shown that the Atkins Diet is extremely effective for losing weight. In fact, the Atkins Diet is now recognized as being more effective for weight loss than any traditional diet.   

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What is the Atkins Diet? 

The Atkins Diet is a program that largely eliminates carbohydrates from your diet to help you lose weight. 

What is the purpose of the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins Diet is designed to cause your body to begin breaking down calories in the form of store fats. By depriving your metabolism of carbs, your body will be forced to obtain sugars from fats that are already stored in the body. 

What are the benefits of the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins Diet is known to help improve blood sugar levels, fight heart disease, and combat obesity. 

How effective is the Atkins Diet for losing weight? 

All available research shows that the Atkins Diet is substantially more effective in helping people lose weight than any conventional diet that relies on counting calories. 

Are there side effects of the Atkins Diet? 

There are some potentially uncomfortable side effects, but these are largely associated with the first phase of the diet. The side effects usually go away as you add healthy carbs back into your diet.


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