The Pros and Cons of the Low Carb Atkins Diet

A Balanced Review of the Atkins Diet

Person cutting a steak with a fork and knife
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The Atkins Diet has been around since 1972, but its popularity doesn't seem to be slowing. This discussion of the positives and negatives of Atkins is apart from those of low-carb diets in general. Here we get specific about people like you who are interested in starting the Atkins diet, but want to know more. Your body may or may not be suited for low-carb eating, but you won't know until you try it.

For those who are better suited for it, they tend to feel better on low-carb diets, be less hungry, and have positive health responses including lower triglycerides and blood glucoselower blood pressure, higher HDL, among others.

Positives of The Atkins Diet

  • Agreeable Food: The Thrill of Eating "Forbidden Foods"
    Atkins dieters are often very happy to find that steak, butter, and cream are back in their diets. They should note, however, that Dr. Atkins advocates eating a variety of fats, and not neglect olive oil and Omega-3's, the healthy fats that are good for your heart and brain.
  • Simple: It's Easy to Catch On To with Clear and Basic Rules to Start
    After you learn what foods to eat and some basic carb counts, you don't have to think about it much.
  • Personalization: Emphasizes Finding Your Own Carb Level
     This is the biggest strength of the diet: the personalized aspect to it. I do think it's clear that different people have different levels of sensitivity to carbohydrates, and it's a big plus to attempt to help people zero in on that.
  • Community Support: Easy to Find Support and Information
    Because of its popularity, the Atkins diet is very easy to find support and information for among friends, family and community. Even if you can't find a buddy to go along with you, chances you or someone you know has been on the diet before. In addition to their own website, there are a lot of websites devoted to Atkins.

    Negatives of the Atkins Diet

    • Popular
      This is a blessing and a curse for some people interested in the Atkins Diet. Everyone has heard of it and almost everyone seems to have misconceptions about it. If you talk about your diet, you may get to feel that you have to defend it.
    • Micro-Managing Your Food
      Like most diets, the Atkins diet does require you micro-manage every item of food you it through counting the carbs in every food you eat.
    • Induction: Phase One is Strict
      The most controversial aspect of the diet is the Induction phase, and it has become so identified with Atkins that many people think it is the diet.
    • Carb Crash
      Some people have a negative reaction to the diet around days 3-5. Although the cure is easy (eat more carbs) and the reaction would transient in any case, people have a lasting memory of this feeling  I have met many people who were turned off low-carb diets altogether by this reaction.
    • Nutrients Lacking
      Getting all necessary nutrients on an extremely low amount of carbohydrate is hard. This wouldn't be so bad if Induction truly only lasted two weeks, but many people extend it, and Atkins says that some people who are extremely metabolically resistant will need to stay on a very low-carb diet permanently to lose weight or maintain weight loss. Although vitamins and minerals can be replaced with supplements, phytonutrients cannot, to the detriment of long-term health.

      The Atkins Diet Bottom Line 

      I don't know many who actually sticks precisely to the rules adding exactly five daily carbs every week, for example. But, on the other hand, it really does take some experimentation for many of us to figure out what works best of us, and its nice that Atkins provides some guidance along the way. Although you now know what to look out for, some people will say, don't knock it until you try it.

      What to learn more about the first phase of the Atkins Diet? Check out Do You Need Atkins Induction?

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