What Dr. Arefa Cassoobhoy Says:
Does It Work?
The Atkins diet is one of the best-known low-carb diets, and the research shows it can work. If you fill your day with processed carbs like white bread, pasta, and potatoes, and you don’t eat many fruits and veggies, then this diet may be the jump start you need to lose weight.
You can quit your usual go-to foods and start with the Atkins food list. The initial phase is limited in food choices but focused on protein, fat, and vegetables that are low carb and not starchy. No processed foods. In each phase you add back food groups: first nuts, seeds, and berries; then fruits, starchy vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
So the closer you get to your weight loss goal, the more variety of foods you’re allowed. Ideally, you’ll stick to their healthy list and not go back to your old ways.
If you like variety in the foods you eat, the Atkins diet is not for you. And if you struggle with portion control, this plan could be difficult. The fat and protein emphasized here is calorie-rich, so the portions have to stay small.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?
This diet does have controversy. When you’re overweight, shedding some pounds can improve your health, and we know the Atkins diet works. But it’s still unclear how the higher amounts of animal protein and fat in the Atkins diet affect long-term health.
Recent research suggests that people on the Atkins diet who chose foods rich in plant fat and protein did better with their health than those who went with the diet rich in animal fat and protein.
This makes sense to me, and the newer versions of the Atkins diet reflect this idea. They focus more on getting fat and protein from heart-healthy choices like olive oil and protein like soy and lentils.
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or high cholesterol, this diet may not be for you because of the focus on animal fat and protein. Talk to your doctor about finding a healthy diet you can stick with to get the weight off.