Atkin's Diet? WTF?

Sorry for the french in the title. I just really want to know what the Atkin’s Diet is. I’ve heard of it being superior to other diets, but I’ve never heard of any diet being effective without excercise. Thanks.

Supposedly, the Atkin’s diet is (IIRC, IANA expert) a diet devoid of most if not all carbohydrates. Rubbish, if you ask me (or anyone who’s taken a science class), as the carbohydrates are what keep your body, well, alive. Besides, all that meat and cheese will send your cholesterol level through the roof and lead to heart problems.

A friend of mine is on a diet much like the Atkin’s and she’s been more of a bitch than usual lately–it’s been nearly two months for her without carbs, and I can’t see that she’s lost anything yet, ans she’s been very rude–quite a personality change.

I hope I don’t come off as biased, but I’ve gotten this information from health specialists and second hand experience.

I shan’t get myself into an argument about the merits of the diet, but can share what I know.

The idea behind the diet is that carbohydrates, since they are the first to be burned by the body for energy, are making us fat. The basic theory behind the physiology is that humans have only been eating vast amounts of grains only in the last few thousand year, as agriculture wasn’t part of our heritage until some ten millenia ago. What complicates this is that sugar now makes up a significant portion of the N.A. diet, when it has only been readily used over the last few hundred years. Further, this intake of simple carbohydrates plays havoc with our blood sugar levels and insulin production, possibly leading to adult-onset diabetes. Moral: We are eating in a way that our evolution does not support.

The diet requires that almost all carbohydrates be eliminated during the first two weeks. Carb intake is kept to a level below 20 grams per day. This is achieved by sticking to a diet of meat and fat, with a few cups of leafy greens per day. This causes the body to go into ketosis, a state in which the body can begin to consume its own fat stores for energy.

After the first two weeks, a person begins adding vegetables back into the diet, slowly at first, to determine what level of carbohydrate intake will lead to a stasis in weight. This is often found to be 80 to 100 grams per day. This is a considerable amount of vegetables if the right ones are chosen. Fruits are typically avoided, as they are said to contain too much sugar (natural, but still sugar). The idea behind this is that, while humans may have eaten many fruits over the past thousands of years, the ones that we are presented with now have been modified through selective growth to contain much higher quantities of sugar, and thus becoming more harmful than good.

*** More…I ran out of space

When a person has lost all of the weight that they want to lose, they simply eat in a way that will keep their carbohydrate intake to a level that is manageable by their body (that 80 to 100 grams per day). Thus, it is considered by its strong adherents to be a WOL (way of life) rather than a “diet” in the sense that that word has become known.

I personally started eating this way a couple of years ago, because I’m usually willing to try new things. I exercised moderately, but still had a few extra pounds. I also happened to read an article about the diet and the way that it has been known to reduce or cure acid reflux, a chronic problem that I’ve had for over a decade.

During my time with the diet, I have virtually eliminated my need for Rolaids (I used to eat a pack a day) or prescription acid reducers. I’ve lost a few pounds and am now a reasonably healthy weight. I have found that I sleep better and have more energy. I used to be the classic guy who falls asleep at his desk at about 2:00 in the aft. Since getting rid of carbs and what is known as a “carb low”, I now experience a far more regulated energy level.

I’ve come to believe that this is an ideal way to eat for my lifestyle. I have also come to believe that the high-carb eating promoted by the various health organizations is wrong. Low-fat lifestyles have been promoted since the early 70s, and many people are eating more in accordance with the Food Pyramid and Food Guide, yet obesity continues to grow. Diabetes continues to grow.

I’m not a fanatic about it, as I don’t go telling people how they should or should not eat. But it has sure worked for me. Oh, and my various indicators are better than they used to be too. An excellent (and surprisingly un-biased) article on the subject:
What If It’s All Been A Big Fat Lie (from New York Times)

You take chemistry man?

Carbo’s are CHO
Protein is CHO + N + other stuff

Protein has everything that carbos have. Whether or not it’s healthy to not eat carbos debatable.

Here is a very brief description of the Atkins’ Diet from at FAQ.

Check out to learn more about it.

They do encourage exercise, especially to help keep your heart healty because you are eating more fats and cholesterol.

You can’t really just stop eating carbs and eat nothing but meat and cheese all day. They recommend meat over cheese, actually. Like 3 oz of cheese a day or something.

I’ve been on Atkins for 2 weeks exactly now. My energy level is 10x what it used to be at least. I haven’t lost much weight (I think I’m doing a few things wrong) but since I’m on the verge of being diabetic I think it’s a pretty good idea for me.

I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. Like my friend who is about 15 lbs overweight, and still very thin. Her problem is lack of aerobic exercise and the fact that her diet consists of chicken fingers, fries and pizza. She need not cut out carbs, just cut down on the fried and fatty foods.

Me, I’m about 180 lbs overweight and eat virtually no protien, only carbs. I have no energy, especially in the middle of the day. I eat very little food and can never lose weight eating low fat. So along with eating 20g of carbs a day plus exercising regularly (walking and swimming), drinking 64 oz of water a day (I used to drink none) is going ot do me alot of good, regardless of the amount of fat i’ll be eating because I’ll hopefulyl be working it off in exercise if Dr. Atkins got his math right.

It used to seem a little fad-ish but if you take a good look at the actual way everything works and how to go about it, it makes sense. Saying “eating no carbs will make you lose weight” is just not how it works. Some of their success stories are quite impressive. Also, my brother has lost about 40 lbs on it too, so I am hoping to God it works for me.

[ul]PETA** [sub]hates it.[/sub]** :p[/ul]

Or its antidote: Big Fat Fake: The Atkins Diet Controversy and the Sorry State of Science Journalism

Thanks for posting that link. I had no idea a related article existed.

I did no carb’s for 6 months. Combined with a good cardio workout and ~1 gallon of water a day I lost ~50lbs (first 10lbs is water weight). My cardio was basically a 2 mile jog/run a day.

The only hard part is giving up Rice and Bread for me. But I love meat so much it wasn’t tha hard.

For a lot of people it is a very easy diet to maintain. Now I losely follow the diet with low carb rather then no carb.

And it seems there are additional writings from these two authors, who seem to despise each other a great deal. I believe that it is now impossible to take any information from those articles as based upon factual evidence, because the articles are more focussed on personal attacks rather than the subject over which they are fighting.

Reply of original author to answering author

Reply of answering author to original author’s response (get it?)

People - one of my favorite quotes is, "the plural of anecdote is not ‘data’ ". Remember this is GQ - factual answers and cites please - most of us don’t want to read through pages of “before and after” stories, on either side of the “Atkins” debate.

In the interest of facts - Scientific American printed this article by a couple of Harvard nutritionists. They seem to be saying that the USDA food pyramid is wrong, or at least over-simplified. About carbs versus fats:

They also say that the important thing is to limit total calories consumed, whether those calories come from carbs or fats.

The Atkinite’s claim that carbs are killing us has some truth to it, if you consider this:
[li]The carbs we’re eating are too refined. It’s almost like eating sugar. True. However, switching to whole grain carbs high in fiber will correct this.[/li]
[li]We eat too much carbs. True. However, if a person were to restict carb intake by calories, then obesity would not be a problem. The Atkins diet helps restrict caloric intake because it eliminates a popular food class leaving a smaller, boring diet that causes people to simply eat less.[/li]
[li]Carbs will cause our blood sugar levels to spike. True. However, regular exercise will clear out the excess sugars better than eliminating carbs completely from the diet. And exercise will tone and build muscles, while an exercise-less Atkins diet will cause muscles to atrophy (which means that part of the weight loss will be significant muscle loss).[/li][/list=1]

Is the food pyramid all wrong?

Absolutely… if not used correctly.

The food pyramid assumes that your grains are whole grains with little or no refined grains.

The food pyramid assumes that you’ll eat the foods in the right proportion while still keeping total caloric intake at a maintenance level.

The food pyramid assumes that you’re exercising.

If you don’t use the pyramid correctly, of course it’s useless.


“Try my all-you-can-eat-banana-skin diet!”


Cite? Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that a person can live completely without. They don’t serve any biologically necesary purpose that the other two can’t make up for.


Wrong - most of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver as a reaction to insulin and carbohydrate intake. Limiting carbs stops your liver from putting out as much cholesterol as it can all the time, and even if you quadrouple your dietary intake of cholesterol, it doesn’t compare to the stuff you make yourself.

When done properly, a low-carb diet, with all the bacon in the world, will reduce your LDL and boost your HDL.


Where on the page do they advocate that? They probably advocate excercise, because excercise is good for you. Even without excercise, a low carb diet will improve blood lipids and make your heart healthier.


Uh, no. Then a pizza-and-cake diet would work because it restricted hugely the types of food that could be eaten.

My caloric intake with low carb dieting was higher than it was normally, and I still lost weight like crazy. It’s true that a lot of people will eat less frequently, because false hunger pains from insulin drops are eliminated, and people only feel hungry when their body is hungry, rather than when a mass insulin injection causes blood sugar to plummet. But, even then, the meals tend to be much more calorically dense.

To say “they lose weight because it’s boring!” is bordering on ridiculous in my eyes. There’s more going on than that.
Is the food pyramid all wrong?

Absolutely… if not used correctly.

The food pyramid assumes that your grains are whole grains with little or no refined grains.

The food pyramid assumes that you’ll eat the foods in the right proportion while still keeping total caloric intake at a maintenance level.

The food pyramid assumes that you’re exercising.

If you don’t use the pyramid correctly, of course it’s useless.


“Try my all-you-can-eat-banana-skin diet!” **

Woops… ignore everything starting with “Is the food pyramid all wrong?” and below in that post… sloppy posting on my part, I forgot to delete the rest.

the main danger for people with atkins is that the body is simply not desined to last for long periods of time without carbs.
the brain need glucose for energy.
prolonged protein intake will lead to eventual ketosis, which could be dangerous.

also, if a person on atkins doesn’t supplement with lots of fibre (such as bran) their digestion will be impaired. nobody likes constipation and haemorrhoids, or bowel cancer.

the cause of obesity is high fat and sugar intake.
reduce dietary fat and refined carbs, increase vegetables and fruit, excercise, voila, weight loss.

the healthiest diet in the world (if you count having the lowest rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity as healthiest) is by rural tribespeople in Papua New Guinea.
try and match your diet to what people in developing nations eat (whole grains, a little green stuff, meat when you can catch it), and you’ll be better off for it.

There are other things you have to do on the Atkins diet besides restricting carb intake.

These are from “Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution”

  1. Caffeine is supposed to be avoided. According to Atkins, caffeine can trigger an insulin response similar to sugar.

  2. Nutrasweet is to be avoided. Atkins cites anecdotal evidence that it interferes with the diet.

  3. Atkins gives a list of medications which he says interferes with the diet. These include psychotropics (such as Prozac), NSAIDS, insulin, and plenty more. He goes on to say that because the diet has a diuretic effect during its early stages, it may cause problems with people who are already taking medications that also have diuretic effects (such as blood pressure meds).

Of course, you should never simply stop any med just to go on a diet. Consult a doctor (which is always a good idea when starting a diet routine).