Thinking seriously about trying the Adkins Diet - What's the Straight Dope on it?

I’ve lost about about 15 lbs by counting calories over the past month and a half and still have a ways to go. I am a 6’ 3" 45 year old male with a medium to medium large upper frame and tree trunk legs even when close to 200 and “skinny”. My weight goal is 215 lbs. This is the way Ive always lost weight in the past, progress is slow and the evening “hungries” and late afternoon “light headedness” can drive you to distraction.

The upside is I’ve gotten very good at counting calories over the years, and I can eat whatever I want (within reason), so long as I don’t exceed the my calorie intake allowance, which is targeted at 1500 calories per day. My metabolism is toward the slow end of the range at around 10-11 calories per lb of maintained weight per day, even with moderate exercise, so even if I get to my goal of 215 this means I can only consume around 2100-2300 calories per day, which seems to me to be nigh unsustainable over the long run. Realistically I know I would find it very difficult to keep to this level of restriction, which is one of the reasons I’m thinking seriously of trying Adkins.

My grandmother was a diabetic, my mother and father were not, and I while I am not diabetic, my fear is that I may well become one if I don’t lose some of this lard. I am very sensitive to sugar and insulin levels and have been all my life, and find it difficult (even with a full night’s rest) not to want to take a deep nap in the late afternoon as my body deals with digesting lunch. I’ve also always had unusually low blood pressure if that matters. Other than that I’m physically “normal”.

The Adkins diet has been around for a few decades now and seems to promise the ability to eat a lot more food. I must admit I’m intrigued by the promise of being able to stuff my face with roast beef and chicken, but I imagine there has to be a catch somewhere. Adkins is the happening thing and I’m very interested in trying it. Any cautions?

These Dopers could probably offer some advice.

Go for the Zone diet or another GI aware diet. I’m no doctor but Atkins doesn’t look clever for a lifetime’s eating. Plenty of people who should know disapprove of Atkins. The Zone diet also looks a bit kooky at first but at least you can live on it without getting scurvy.

You can stuff yerself stupid if you burn it all off again - but the calorie maths say you need to do a Tour de France stage to burn of a couple of McMeals.

I would suggest you also investigate the South Beach Diet. I’ve got some friends who are doing Atkins, but I’m doing South Beach, and I find it to be quite easy to follow, even eating out. From what I see my Atkins friends eating, I think I have more variety available to me.

The trick is to find what works for you.

First, know that it’s Atkins.

Second, sigh. This is like asking, “Thinking seriously about trying born-again Christianity - What’s the Straight Dope on it?”

Astro, you are very brave! This is such a can of worms and in about ten seconds, you will have everyone yelling at you. Atkins is like a cult! Raving hords of pork eating lunatics run amok, I tell you!

IAAPD. That is, I am a professional dieter. Some time ago, I lost more than 100 pounds and now I maintain my weight using various means that mostly involve a LOT of physical activity and eating MOSTLY well with a few muffin problems thrown in.

The only real catch to the Atkins thing is that you won’t actually be stuffing your face with anything. After a couple of days of eating nothing but protein and fat, your body will be in ketosis which causes an enormous loss of appetite. You’ll be able to eat all the bacon you want, but you won’t want that much. No matter what anyone says, you STILL cannot eat more than you burn and lose weight, know what I mean? So you’ll be losing weight on 1,000 of bacon and steak per day, rather than 1,000 calories of fruits and veggies. Benefits: You won’t feel hungry and this has an ENORMOUS diuretic effect so you will see a huge dip in the numbers on the scale in a short time. Instant Dieters motivation!

Detriment: Ketosis also causes bad breath. You’ll likely be constipated and you might feel sick to your stomach. Ketosis is also what happens to your body when you are starved, ill, can’t absorb you food properly, etc. It’s basically “eating yourself sick.”

I would claim not to be an expert on how to lose weight, but I don’t really believe that. I’ve done a lot of research, and had a LOT of experience about what works and what does not work. Here’s my relatively sensible advice:

  1. Atkins is right: white flour and other processed carbs are CRAP. They add calories to your body, but don’t have any nutritional value so you still need REAL food to provide you with nutrients. Cut out white bread and sugar…it’s completely useless.

  2. If you eat 2 and a half servings of lean protein (I eat eggs too) per day, four servings of veggies, four pieces of fruit, two starches that do not consist of processed crapola, two servings of fat, and two servings of some kind of low fat dairy product you are not likely to feel starved. I have a huge appetite and this takes care of my cravings pretty well.

  3. Decide that physical activity is fun. Remember when you were a kid and you loved to run around like a nut-bucket on the playground for no apparent reason? Remember RECESS? Well have a recess now. If you don’t like physical activity, pretend you do until you convince yourself. Find stuff you hate to do least and call it “party time.” Do something social if that helps. You said you were doing moderate exercise, so maybe you already have that down.

  4. Lift weights! This has an amazing affect on your rate of burning calories. It will mean that you can maintain your weight on MORE food. You will also see results VERY quickly. I increased my maximum bicep curl weight by something like 1,000 percent in 6 weeks. How fun is that? Plus, lifting weights is fun. I know it is, because I told myself so.

Maybe you knew all this stuff. Most people who are overweight don’t really need to be told these things. I just thought I’d throw in what worked for ME. Let me know how it goes!


You might also want to look at Whitaker, Reversing Diabetes, which I’ve found helpful for getting myself out of the pre-diabetic “danger” range. Like South Beach, this diet has vegetables.

It’s anecdotal, but I’ve never known anyone to stay on Atkins for very long. I think Atkins seems to be a fad thing. I do believe you can’t go wrong with a low carb diet though…a large amount of carbs is pretty worthless. That just seems like a more reasonable goal to shoot for.


I would recommend Eades’ and Eades’ Protein Power diet, a low-carb solution that allows plenty of fresh vegetables. Not as much meat as ATkins, and more vegetables, not quite as low in carbohydrates, but still low enough to rip the weight off. It worked very well for me: I lost 20 lb in the first two weeks and 2 lb per week after that, without ever feeling hungry, and eating plenty of vitaminaceous foods.

Also, if you have or have had high insulin, or if you find yourself craving sweet or starchy foods, or if your blood sugar is unusually unstable, it might be a good idea to take a three-month course of chromium supplements. The chelated for is said to be best.


First off, read the book.
I’ve been doing it since about April and have lost about 50 pounds. It’s not all pork rinds and bacon. I eat lots of fresh veggies, and lots of chicken and fish. Once you get into it, it’s very easy. I never once had constipation. Sugar-free breath mints take care of any bad breath.
I feel great on this diet. I NEVER get that mid-afternoon “I have to take a nap now!” feeling anymore.
I have tons of energy, and feel better than I’ve felt in years.
I don’t miss the carbs at all. I’ve completely lost my taste for pasta. I couldn’t care less if I never have spaghetti again.

My neurologist had me try it, as a way of dealing with severe migraines. He wanted me to cut out refined sugar, and I started with cutting out soda. I haven’t had a soda in 2 years, and I don’t miss them at all. I drink lots of water. I just started upping the number of sugar- and carb-laden foods out of my diet, till I was on the complete Atkins diet.

As I mentioned in the thread dantheman linked to, people who don’t really know about it tend to spout off at the mouth and assume you eat a dozen fried eggs and a pound of bacon every day for breakfast, and huge steaks for lunch and dinner. :rolleyes:
I think they don’t realize that veggies make up a huge part of the diet. I still eat red meat, but most of my protein is from chicken and fish. I eat eggs a couple of times a week, and I eat bacon once or twice a week, usually as part of a salad.

South Beach is the one I’m investigating, but I’m too poor to live on meat. I can only eat enough to not be hungry because I eat carbs. How does one afford this diet?

My SOs parents and sister did the Atkins scene and have been steadily for more than two and a half years. They lost tons of weight (his sister lost over 100 pounds in a little less than a year). His parents are managing well, they eat healthy amounts of carbs and more for special events (like thanksgiving and the annual family barbecue).

His sister is getting better about it, but still refuses to eat most carbs in any form. Her statement “I had 1/2 a gram of carbs today” still kind of scares me.

However, this diet does make you lose weight. A professor of mine developed diabetes (type 2? the diet one) and had to cut carbs or die. (two days in the hospital after one beer will wake you up) and is basically following atkins. He’s lost over 100 pounds as well, but he can now eat any type of food in moderation.