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Atkins Diet: The Ultimate Guide |

Like any popular diet, there are both benefits and risks to following a restricted eating plan. Here’s a look at some of them for the Atkins diet.


There are a handful of possible pros to following the Atkins nutritional approach.

For one, the diet is relatively easy to stick to. “People feel it’s easy to follow,” says Susan Kraus, RD, a clinical dietitian at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. “You focus on a few food groups, and there’s simplicity in that you don’t have to measure foods, and you’re not feeling deprived.”

And there is compelling scientific evidence that eliminating processed foods from your daily diet and replacing them with real-food choices like leafy greens and healthy fats — a foundation of the Atkins plan — can have a significant positive effect on your health and even reduce your risk of chronic diseases. In fact, a review from 2020 in the journal Nutrients concluded that the body of research over the last decade against processed foods was so strong that it pointed to the need for fundamental changes in food sourcing and manufacturing overall.

Following the low-carb fad diet may also help people with type 2 diabetes who are looking for a solution to high blood sugar. Reducing carbohydrates can deliver health benefits, regardless of whether you are trying to lose weight. For example, a 2015 review showed that carbohydrate restriction can help in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. (13)


On the flip side, you’re not getting a well-balanced diet with the Atkins Nutritional Approach. “With any diet that eliminates a whole food group, you’re not going to get all your nutrients,” says Barbara Schmidt, RD, a nutritionist in private practice in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Then there’s the lack of fiber, an important nutrient that can help you feel full and curb unhealthy cravings. “Omitting all these food groups — [such as] grains and fruit — even if you make up nutrients with a vitamin and mineral supplement, you’re not getting enough fiber,” Kraus says. “There are also many phytochemicals, which are compounds found naturally in fruits and veggies, that provide strong antioxidant effects and might not be found in a general multivitamin and mineral supplement, along with fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which would not be gotten by eating this way.”

Last, the Atkins diet may cause dehydration, which could lead to lightheadedness or energy loss. (14) Carbs hold onto water in your body, so when you don’t eat carbs, you lose a lot of water weight. This can also raise your uric acid level and cause a gout attack, increase calcium loss through urine, and overwork your kidneys and liver, says Kraus.

Researchers caution that although high-protein diets may be beneficial for some people looking to lose weight, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider to make sure this approach is safe for you. (15) Some research shows a high-protein diet may lead to reduced kidney function in women with prior mild renal dysfunction. (16)

Regardless, if you’re upping your protein intake, be sure to drink extra water. The Atkins diet recommends drinking at least eight 8 oz glasses of water per day. (14)



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