Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Find a Vitamin or Supplement

ATKINS DIET

Other Names:

Atkins, Dieta de Atkins, Dr. Robert Atkins' Diet, High Protein Diet, LCD, LCHPD, Low-Carb Diet, Low-Carbohydrate Diet, Low-Carbohydrate High-Protein Diet, Régime Atkins, Régime d'Atkins, Régime du Dr Robert Atkins, Régime Hyperprotéiné, Régime H...
See All Names

 Overview
 Uses
 Side Effects
 Interactions
 Dosing
Overview Information

The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate high proteindiet. It is used for weight loss.

How does it work?

The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. It focuses on eliminating carbohydrates with a “high glycemic index.” “High glycemic index” carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels quickly after they are eaten. Some people believe that high glycemic foods cause the body to excrete extra insulin and this results in fat accumulation, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Even if this is true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that low glycemic index foods can prevent these outcomes. There is lots of debate on this point, and researchers are trying to resolve the controversy.

There are several other low-carbohydrate diets. But the Atkins diet restricts more carbohydrates than other low-carbohydrate diets such as the South Beach diet.

The Atkins diet consists of four phases. The first phase, called “induction,” lasts for 2 weeks and is the most restrictive. During this phase, lean, high-protein foods such as beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, and chesses are eaten. Cured meats are discouraged during this phase. Carbohydrate consumption is limited to 20 grams.

Phase 2, called “ongoing weight loss,” still focuses on lean, high-protein foods, but allows 25 grams of carbohydrates at first. This allowance increases slowly, 5 grams at a time.

Phase 3 is called “pre-maintenance.” It allows increasing carbohydrate intake by 10 grams a week. Dieters enter this phase when they are 5-10 pounds away from their goal and stay in phase 3 until they reach their target weight.

Phase 4, or “lifetime maintenance,” is the final phase. The goal of this phase is a diet with a carbohydrate balance that allows the dieter to maintain his or her target weight.

Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Possibly Effective for:

  • Weight loss. The Atkins diet can help produce modest weight loss when used for up to 12 months. After 6-12 months on the Atkins diet, weight loss averages 2-6 kilograms (or 4.4 to 13 pounds). Some research shows that weight loss on this diet is not significantly different than other diets such as Weight Watchers, Ornish, or the Zone diets. However, other research shows that the Atkins diet produces significantly higher average weight loss compared to the Zone diet, but not the Ornish or LEARN diets after 12 months. Other research shows that weight loss with the Atkins diet is greater in the first 4 weeks compared to other diets, but after 6 months there is no difference.

Side Effects & Safety

The Atkins diet is safe when used appropriately. Many experts have expressed concern that long-term use of the Atkins diet might raise levels of blood fats and increase the chance of developing heart disease. However, research shows that the Atkins diet decreases certain heart disease risk factors rather than increasing them.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of the Atkins diet during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Interactions What is this?

We currently have no information for Interactions

Dosing

The Atkins diet has four phases.

  • The first phase, called “induction,” lasts for 2 weeks and limits food choices more than the other phases. This phase allows only lean, high-protein foods, such as beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, and cheeses. Cured meats are discouraged during this phase. Dieters are allowed only 20 grams of carbohydrate during this phase.
  • Phase 2, called “ongoing weight loss,” still focuses on lean, high-protein foods, but allows 25 grams of carbohydrates initially. This increases slowly, 5 grams at a time.
  • Phase 3 is called “pre-maintenance.” It allows increasing carbohydrate intake by 10 grams a week. Dieters enter this phase when they are 5-10 pounds away from their goal and stay in phase 3 until they reach their target weight.
  • Phase 4, or “lifetime maintenance,” is the final phase. The goal of this phase is a diet with a carbohydrate balance that allows the dieter to maintain his or her target weight.

Be the first to share your experience with this treatment.

Review this Treatment

Learn about User Reviews and read IMPORTANT information about user generated content

Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

Search for a Vitamin or Supplement

Ex. Ginseng, Vitamin C, Depression

Today on WebMD

Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
Man taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
 
clams
Quiz
Woman in sun
Slideshow
 
Flaxseed added fiber
Video
!!69X75_Vitamins_Supplements.jpg
Evaluator
 
Woman sleeping
Article
Woman staring into space with coffee
Article
 
Related Newsletters

Stay Informed with the latest must-read information delivered right to your inbox.

IMPORTANT: About This Section and Other User-Generated Content on WebMD

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatment or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.