The Atkins Diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate weight-loss diet developed by Robert Atkins, MD. Atkins dieters can eat as many calories from protein and fat as they want, as long as they restrict their carbohydrates.
The diet is divided into four phases:
- Induction (the first 14 days)—Carbs are limited to no more than 20 grams per day. No fruit, bread, grains, starchy vegetables, or dairy products (except cheese, cream, and butter) are allowed during this phase.
- Ongoing weight loss—Dieters experiment until they find a carbohydrate intake that allows them to continue to lose weight until their weight-loss goals are met.
- Premaintenance and maintenance—Dieters determine the level of carbohydrate intake that allows them to maintain their weight.
Best bets: Meats, eggs, dairy products (except milk), Atkins-labeled products, or check the nutrition label to see the carb content for any food. See our Low-Carbohydrate Diet article for more low-carb ideas.
More about this diet
Originally developed in the 1960s, in the early 1990s Dr. Atkins brought his diet back into the nutrition spotlight with the publication of his best-selling book Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution.
The Atkins Diet severely restricts the consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods and encourages the consumption of protein and fat. The diet is divided into four phases: Induction, Ongoing Weight Loss, Premaintenance, and Maintenance. During the Induction phase (the first 14 days of the diet), carbohydrate intake is limited to no more than 20 grams per day. No fruit, bread, grains, starchy vegetables, or dairy products (except cheese, cream, and butter) are allowed during this phase. During the Ongoing Weight Loss phase, dieters experiment with various levels of carbohydrate consumption until they determine the most liberal level of carbohydrate intake that allows them to continue to lose weight. Dieters are encouraged to maintain this level of carbohydrate intake until their weight loss goals are met. During the Premaintenance and Maintenance phases, dieters determine the level of carbohydrate consumption that allows them to maintain their weight. To prevent weight regain, dieters are told to maintain this level of carbohydrate consumption, perhaps for the rest of their lives. According to Dr. Atkins, most people must limit their carbohydrate intake to no more than 60 grams per day to keep lost weight off.
Note: The dietary recommendations issued by various organizations, including the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Heart Association, encourage a daily carbohydrate intake of approximately 300 grams.
In addition to the dietary restrictions discussed above, Dr. Atkins’ weight loss program recommends regular exercise and nutritional supplementation.