Atkins Diet Plan Review 2023: How it Works, Benefits, Risks
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission at no cost if you purchase through a link.
If you’re wondering if the Atkins diet is right for you, the first steps are to be educated about what it is and how it can complement your lifestyle. Once you have that information, you can determine if it’s the right choice for your weight loss goals.
The Atkins diet isn’t a new diet, by any means. It’s actually been around for quite some time and was quite popular several years ago. It seemed like everywhere you turned, someone somewhere was on the Atkins diet.
What some viewed as a fad or a trend has continued throughout the years. And while there might be other diets that have popped up or came about along the way (the keto being one), it’s no stretch to say that the Atkins diet is still a trendy choice for people trying to achieve their weight loss goals.
Losing weight isn’t all that difficult if you’re following along with the diet, but many people don’t take the time to educate themselves about the long-term process of what the Atkins diet truly is.
Let’s dig deep into the Atkins diet plan review 2023, so to have a better understanding of how it works, what are its benefits and its risks.
Before starting our journey, let me remind you we have a bunch of useful guides on diets and healthy food habits:
- Intermittent Fasting for Beginners
- Noom Diet: Everything You Need to Know
- Keto Diet for Beginners
- Carb Cycling: Everything You Need to Know
- What Is The Atkins Diet and How did it get started?
- How Does the Atkins Diet Work?
- The Atkins Diet Phases
- Can I Skip the Induction Phase?
- What Foods Are Allowed on the Atkins Diet?
- What Foods Are Not Allowed on the Atkins Diet?
- What Beverages Are Forbidden on the Diet?
- What Beverages Are Allowed on the Atkins Diet?
- A Sample Atkins Menu for One Week
- What Are the Benefits of the Atkins Diet?
- What Are the Risks of the Atkins Diet?
- Atkins Diet vs Keto Diet
- Atkins vs Keto: Which Diet Suits You The Best?
- Atkins Diet: Useful Resources
- Atkins Diet: The Bottom Line
What Is The Atkins Diet and How did it get started?
On a nutshell, the The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet that initially only aimed at weight loss.
The Atkins diet has actually been around since the 1970s. It was written about in a book, where it didn’t get the best remarks or reviews. In its original form, it was thought to be a “bad” diet because the main component of it was to eat meat. And while meat-eating is fine, many doctors feel that eating a lot of meat isn’t good for cholesterol.
That was the old days. Nowadays, doctors are singing a different tune. They feel that the weight loss program has effectively lowered blood sugar and helped maintain weight goals. This means the diet is now also used to live a better lifestyle, exactly like the Keto diet to which is often compared.
While the Atkins diet is a high protein diet, it’s also important to note that it isn’t intended to be free for all to consume in excess quantities.
Back when the Atkins diet first started, people took it as a green light to eat heaps of greasy meat because it was “technically” allowed on a diet.
No matter if it’s on the Atkins diet or not, any greasy food shouldn’t be consumed in excess.
All things in moderation applies even to a low-carb diet such as this.
How Does the Atkins Diet Work?
Just like most diet programs, there are phases that you have to prepare for and go through to give your body a “jump-start” into weight loss.
The Atkins diet is great for people who have filled their menu planning with high carb foods like noodles and bread because these are initially the types of foods they’re going to be cutting out.
But beware, this is just a portion of the diet. It’s more than just waking up and eating meat and low-carb foods. For your journey on the Atkins diet to work, you have to be ready to implement and stick to the different phases for your weight loss success.
The Atkins Diet Phases
When it comes to sticking to the Atkins diet and finding success, there are four different phases that a person will need to go through and stick to:
1. Induction – Phase 1
The first phase lasts two weeks. During this time, your goal is to remain under 20 grams of carbs every day. To do this, dieters will want to focus on eating meats and vegetables low in carbs.
The entire part of this phase is to “shock” your body but drastically cut your carbs. Many people find great success for weight loss in these first two weeks, giving them the motivation to keep going for more.
And since you can still consume quite a bit of food since you’re only counting carbs and not calories, there’s not that feeling of being hungry or starved like can be the case for so many other diets out there.
2. Balancing – Phase 2
Now that you’ve done what it takes during the first 2 weeks of the diet, it’s time to start adding in a bit of “healthy” carbs back into your diet.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a free for all but more of a slow process with gradual increases. Some people decide to add nuts and fruits, while others leave out the fruit option and stick with nuts.
This can be customizable to whatever works for you, your taste buds, and your weight loss goals. (Again, do this over the process of a couple of weeks to allow your body to adjust gradually)
3. Fine-Tuning – Phase 3
Now that you’ve been on a diet for about a month or so, it’s time to continue to increase your carb intake to refuel your body. You’ll notice during this phase that your weight loss is going to start decreasing and slowing down because you’ve already lost the bulk of what you’re going to lose.
Don’t get discouraged at this point. The Atkins diet’s goal is to get to a healthy weight loss goal that you can then try to maintain. More than likely, a large portion of weight was shed during the first four weeks of this diet. Now, you get to add in even more carbs slowly and maintain.
4. Maintenance – Phase 4
The last and final phase of the Atkins diet is maintenance. Basically, this means that you’re at the point where you’ve shocked your system, and it’s time to start adding back in healthy carbs.
And the word “healthy” is the key. This doesn’t mean to eat processed carbs and sugary carbs and expect to maintain your weight; however, it does mean that you can add in fruits, veggies, and even optional bread without worrying about gaining all of your lost weight back.
The maintenance phase is pretty much your normal lifestyle at this point, and you should check on your weight often to make certain that your body isn’t regaining the weight you’ve lost.
If you see that you’re starting to gain back the weight, it’s time to start the phases repeatedly and see if you can get your body back on track.
Can I Skip the Induction Phase?
There may be people who jump around and skip phase one and just start at phase two. If this is the case, it’s one of those times to make a judgment call for what works best for you. You know your body, and what it needs, so the Atkins diet can be beneficial as long as you’re going about it healthily. And if you have questions, make certain to consult your physician along the way.
What Foods Are Allowed on the Atkins Diet?
This is where the popularity of the Atkins diet really took off. There are many foods allowed, which help people on a diet not feel restricted or feel as though they’re hungry and constantly craving something else.
While this isn’t an all-inclusive list of food that is allowed to reach your weight loss goal, rest easy knowing that these foods are allowed at some point in time during the Atkins diet:
This means all types of meat. Beef, chicken, bacon…you name it. You can have pork and lamb, as well. Honestly, any meat, no matter the fat content, is allowed on this diet. (this includes seafood options as well)
Starting your morning with bacon and eggs is a popular choice for many on a diet. Plus, eggs are quick and easy snacks as well. Hard boil a large group of eggs to have on hand for a snack or create an omelet to start or end the day.
At a later phase of the diet, nuts are allowed since they are considered good fat and carbs. Almonds are always a great choice, as are walnuts and sunflower seeds as well. Adding a handful of nuts into your daily snack is a great way to stay on track and feel fuller.
4. Low-Carb Vegetables
Be careful when eating vegetables and make certain to choose ones that are low in carbs. Green beans, kale, and broccoli are safe bets and delicious to eat. Start your day with a kale smoothie or grill up some asparagus on the grill.
Another big perk of the Atkins diet is that dairy is allowed. You don’t have to cut out things like butter or cheese and add it to most dishes without thinking twice about it. Even yogurt is allowed to consume.
6. Miscellaneous Foods
If you’re wondering what else you can have on the Atkins diet, know that you can have healthy fats like coconut oil and avocados as well. Healthy fats can be consumed because they help people feel fuller and are processed more quickly. Our body uses them for energy, and when combining that with limiting carbs, it’s burned more quickly and efficiently.
What Foods Are Not Allowed on the Atkins Diet?
Now that you know the allowed foods let’s talk about a few of the items you’re going to have to avoid.
1. High Carb Vegetables
During the first phase of the diet, high carb vegetables need to be left out. This means carrots or other veggies such as that. (they can be introduced later on in the phases)
Certain fruits such as bananas and apples are high in sugar, so they need to be eliminated during the first phase. As with the high carb veggies, they can be slowly introduced at a later phase.
Sugar is a big no-no. No sugar at all. This means anything with sugar needs to be eliminated. Ice cream, cupcakes, soda, brownies, cereal…you name it. If it has the ingredient of sugar added, it needs to be removed from your diet.
Bread is a no-go, as is anything made with wheat, rice, or other types of grains. Your goal is to consume items super low carb or carb-free, which is never an option with bread.
While potatoes may have many health benefits, they aren’t allowed in the first phase of the diet. This is for regular or sweet potatoes and needs to adhere to. You can add them in later slowly but not at all at first.
6. Processed Oils
Cooking oils like canola oil and corn oil aren’t good for the diet. This is because they are processed highly and may contain things that don’t mix well with your new eating habits. Stick to coconut oil or avocado oil instead to get those good fats.
High in carbs, beans need to be eliminated during the first phase. After that, you can slowly introduce them back but in small quantities.
What Beverages Are Forbidden on the Diet?
The thing to remember is to drink as you eat on a diet. Beverages that are forbidden are those that are processed or high in sugar. Examples include:
- Diet Soda
- Fruit Juice
- Sugared Tea
There’s a trend there. All of those beverages are high in sugar and low in adding anything at all to the benefit of your weight loss goals.
What Beverages Are Allowed on the Atkins Diet?
Now that you know what you can’t drink let’s highlight the beverages that you can have.
This is going to be the best and should be your #1 focus. Water is great for flushing the system, hydrating, and keeping your diet simple and on track.
It’s a safe bet always to drink water, and you don’t have to limit your intake of this during the process. Plan by having your own water bottle with you at all times and filling it with ice-cold water.
Drinking black coffee on a diet is fine and should cause no issues. What creates a cause for concern is when you start adding other additives like coffee creamer, sugar, or other processed things to alter the taste and flavor. Those types of additives need to be avoided on a diet during all phases.
Suppose you’re wanting to have a drink, consume a low carb beverage or beer that you don’t have to worry about messing up your diet. Like most things, this should be done in moderation and not often.
A Sample Atkins Menu for One Week
While you can vary up the options, here is one example of a sample Atkins menu for the week:
- Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Cheese
- Lunch: Spinach salad with grilled chicken
- Dinner: Pork chop and roasted broccoli
- Breakfast: Bacon and deviled egg
- Lunch: Grilled Veggies
- Dinner: Cheeseburger wrapped in lettuce and a side of green beans
- Breakfast: Veggie Omelette
- Lunch: Baked Salmon and sauteed spinach
- Dinner: Loose meat ground beef tacos in a lettuce wrap
- Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
- Lunch: Grilled chicken and grilled asparagus
- Dinner: Salad with slices of avocado and leftover chicken
- Breakfast: Pork Sausage and veggies
- Lunch: Pork ribs with green beans
- Dinner: Leftover ribs with kale salad
- Breakfast: Egg Omelet and sausage
- Lunch: Meatballs and zoodles
- Dinner: Steak and Grilled Asparagus
- Breakfast: Coffee and eggs
- Lunch: Steak and Veggie stir fry
- Dinner: Homemade Salsa and veggies with leftover steak
As you can see, you can use your leftovers from the previous meals to keep building and adding on new meals. And as you get further in your phases, you can add in nuts and certain other foods.
What Are the Benefits of the Atkins Diet?
There are many benefits of the Atkins diet, but some doctors still vary on their opinions on if it’s a “safe” diet to do long term.
The real and true benefit is that it’s a great way to jumpstart your system and lose weight quickly. This can help get you in the mind-frame that weight loss is possible and easy to do.
(Keep in mind that as with any diet, you’ll also want to incorporate more exercise and moving your body as well. Doing this in addition to living the Atkins lifestyle will help to shed even more weight quickly.)
What Are the Risks of the Atkins Diet?
Eating a diet that is so full of fat has many people concerned over blood pressure, trans fat issues, and heart problems down the road.
If you’re unsure if the Atkins diet is right for you, the best bet is to contact your doctor and see what they recommend. It’s not worth taking any risk if it’s going to put you in danger at any point in time.
Atkins Diet vs Keto Diet
If you’re familiar with the Atkins diet, you’re probably just as familiar with the Keto diet. And while both have similarities, they have their differences, too.
In the above information, we talked about everything, Atkins, but just how does that compare to the Keto diet? Many people feel that it’s the same diet but just with a new name, but that actually isn’t the case.
The Keto diet follows the same eating habits as the Atkins, but it doesn’t necessarily go in phases. The Keto diet is really a lifestyle change where you stay in the “induction” phase for the entire time. This means that you won’t be introducing higher carb foods back into your diet because you will stay as low carb and carb-free as possible.
There’s also a term called “ketosis” that alerts people when their body has officially entered that fat-burning stage. This is where the keto diet gets its name, and this past year, the Keto diet has become extremely popular.
Atkins vs Keto: Which Diet Suits You The Best?
When it comes to deciding if the Keto diet is right for you, you must first understand your own willpower and what you’re trying to achieve. Following the Atkins diet tends to be easier for some because you can ultimately allow certain foods to be let back into your diet. Keto is a stricter diet that has you staying the low-carb course.
One way to understand what diet option is right for you is to start the Atkins diet and complete the first phase. If you’re liking the outcome and how it’s making you feel, you can then choose to go on to the next phase of the diet or keep up with that eating habit.
If you stick with that eating habit, you’re essentially committing yourself to the Keto diet and living the low carb lifestyle.
Atkins Diet: Useful Resources
Understanding the Atkins diet is essential to embrace it at its full capacity. In this article, I’ve given a brief overview of what Atkins is, how it works, and its benefits/risks. With the following resources, you will have the opportunity to understand it and customize this diet based on your needs and lifestyle.
1. New Atkins for a New You
The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great by Eric C. Westman, Stephen D. Phinney, and Jeff S. Volek explain what Atkins is and how to make sure it will work for you. The best thing about this book is that it adopts a scientific approach to this diet pattern.
Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution
With Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, you get everything you need: essential medical and nutritional information, a helpful carbohydrate gram counter, low-carb meal plans, and dozens of recipes for everything from appetizers to entrees to desserts.
Atkins Diet: The Bottom Line
In a world full of diets, figuring out what works best for you is key. There are so many great recipes out there that are easy to implement and follow on the Atkins diet and can keep it feeling fresh and new throughout the duration that you’re on it.
The Atkins diet phases allow you to work your way through all the various foods and what your body can’t and can have. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that it’s not hard to remember or stay on track at all.
Just remember that you will experience a lull in your weight loss during the transitional phases, and that’s to be expected. Your body will continue to lose weight as you go, but it won’t be in such big increments as it was in the first phase.
After you’ve completed the first phase, you’re going to want to start figuring out what you can introduce into your lifestyle to eat and maintain all the work you’ve just done. Nothing is more frustrating than gaining back all that weight that you’ve just lost and then having to start all over again.