Atkins Diet: What is it and how does it work?
The Atkins Diet is an extreme form of the Low-Carb Diet, which caused a real hype in its time. The basis of the diet is the almost complete exclusion of carbohydrates. The focus is therefore mainly on meat, fish and cheese – in other words, foods that are rich in protein and fat. Carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, pasta and potatoes are not found in this diet plan at all. It even goes as far as completely excluding fruit and vegetables. According to its inventor, Robert Atkins, this type of diet boosts the metabolism of overweight people in particular and leads to a drastic drop in weight. Since then, the diet has been divided into four phases, each phase allowing a different amount of carbohydrates. The amount of carbohydrates is extremely reduced in the first phase, but is then slightly increased with each new phase. The fourth and final phase then serves to adapt this to an everyday diet, so that the dietary changes can be made permanent and the new weight can be maintained.
What is allowed in the Atkins Diet and what is not?
For whom is the Atkins Diet most suitable?
- This diet is suitable for healthy adults.
- If you suffer from kidney or liver damage, it is better to avoid such a high-protein diet.
- This diet is not recommended for children or adolescents who are still growing, because it does not provide many of the nutrients neccessary for development.
- It is however a good alternative for diabetics, as very little insulin is secreted.
- People who are very overweight should consult a doctor beforehand and have their blood counts checked, in order to rule out any health risks.
- In addition, the Atkins Diet is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians, as the main components are meat and animal products.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Atkins Diet
|With the Atkins Diet there is no strict plan – you can prepare your own meals and do not have to count calories. It therefore allows for a lot of freedom. You only have to avoid carbohydrates.||Leaving out so many foods, in particularly fruit and vegetables, can lead to deficiency symptoms because the body is not being sufficiently supplied with neccessary nutrients. In order to work around this, you would have to resort to supplements.|
|Due to the extreme reduction in carbohydrates, results can be quickly achieved.||The intensity of the diet means there is no possibility of maintaining it long-term.|
|The diet quickly becomes unbalanced.|
Atkins Diet in Detail
How individual is the Atkins Diet?
- The same rules and quantities apply to all dieters. They are not individually adapted to each person.
- Due to the high protein content through animal products, this form of diet cannot be adapted to special eating habits like vegetarianism or veganism.
How flexible is the Atkins Diet?
- There is no need for tiresome calorie counting and you are essentially only giving up carbohydrates. Therefore this diet can also work for people who, for example, have to fit it around work.
- There is no need for special foods and restaurant visits are no obstacles. You should only avoid side dishes rich in carbohydrates.
How suitable is the Atkins Diet for everyday?
- The complete exclusion of carbohydrates makes the diet quite unbalanced.
- Even eating out can be a problem from time to time. On the other hand, you have a free choice of permitted recipes and are not restricted in terms of quantity.
How scientific is the Atkins Diet?
- It can be proven that the Atkins Diet acheives results, however that is mainly due to the calorie reduction itself and not the restriction of carbohydrates.
- The drastic reduction of carbohydrates should be regarded critically, because carbohydrates are the number one energy supplier for the body. If you remove them completely from your diet, the whole body is forced to draw energy from muscle and fat. This causes the muscles to suffer and it can lead to muscle cramp.
- The high protein content of the diet is also bad for the body in the long term. It not only raises insulin levels, but during the division and digestion of proteins, uric acid is produced. If the protein intake is too high, the toxic substance can be deposited in the kidneys and cause permanent damage. A long-term consequence can even be cardiovascular disease.
How sustainable is the Atkins Diet and what risks does it entail?
- If you follow the rules and regulations of the diet strictly, you can achieve quick results, especially in the first phase. The later phases are then used to acclimatise and adapt in order to maintain the body weight.
- However this diet cannot and should not be permanently maintained. This is because health risks cannot be ruled out due to the high proportion of animal fats, and fatigue and impairment of the immune system can occur due to the severe carbohydrate deficiency.
- The reduction of weight happens very fast and is not neccessarily sustainable, which is why the risk of experiencing the yo-yo effect after ending the diet is fairly high.
- The principle of the Atkins Diet is based on ketosis: in the absence of carbohydrates for energy metabolism, fatty acids are converted into ketone bodies in the liver in order to ensure that the body has energy.
- However, this carries the risk of increased triglyceride levels. People who are very overweight, as well as diabetics or people with lipid metabolism disorders, usually already suffer from an elevated triglyceride level. The consequence is an increased risk of thrombosis.
- In addition, the extreme carbohydrate deficiency can lead to many deficiency symptoms. These symptoms could incude: fatigue, muscle cramps, raised cholesterol and blood fat levels, liver and kidney damage and even high blood pressure.
Conclusion and Rating
Basically, the Atkins Diet can be used to acheive quick and radical weight loss. However it holds many health risks and should not be maintained over a long period of time. The drastic change in diet and nutritional deficiencies make experiencing a yo-yo effect after finishing the diet more likely. A long-term, healthy and balanced diet is not possible with the Atkins Diet, rendering it one of the so-called “crash diets” – quick results that do not last and are difficult to maintain. Therefore our overall ranking is as follows:
|Potential to individualise|
|Difficulty & Suitability for everydayt|
Atkins Diet vs. Upfit
|Potential to individualise|
|The same rules and quantities apply for all dieters, so they are not individually suited to each person. Due to the high protein content via animal products, this form of diet cannot be adapted to special eating habits such as vegetarianism or veganism.||Adapted to your goal, taking into account allergies, intolerances and eating habits. Optional adaptation to your personal diet is available, such as vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, flexitarian or paleo. Features like "Meal-Switcher" and "Favourite Dishes" individualise the plan.|
|There is no need for tiresome calorie counting and you are essentially only giving up carbohydrates. Therefore this diet can also work for people who, for example, have to fit it around work.||Meals are pre-planned. The Meal-Switcher and pre-determined details allow the diet to be adapted to the individuals everyday life. Meals can be skipped when visiting a restaurant.|
|Suitability for everyday|
|The complete ban on carbohydrates means the diet is quite unbalanced.||Suitable for everyday use, thanks to the cooking times and the fact that it takes your food budget into account. For those who are extremely busy and have to fit mealtimes around their jobs, midday cooking can be excluded and/or the time saving pre-cooking option can be used.|
|It has been demonstrated that the Atkins Diet does achieve results, however that is mainly due to the calorie reduction itself and not the restriction of carbohydrates. This diet has a negative effect on muscles and muscle cramps can occur due to the lack of carbohydrates. The high protein content in the diet is also bad for the body in the long term.||Dishes and snacks are scientifically sound and are compiled according to your personal requirements for nutrients and vitamins. Portion sizes are set according to your goal and are based on a low-carbohydrate nutritional principle, developed in cooperation with sports scientists and nutritionists.|
|This diet cannot / should not be permanently maintained. This is because health risks cannot be ruled out due to the high proportion of animal fats, and fatigue and impairment of the immune system can occur due to the severe carbohydrate deficiency. The reduction of weight happens very fast and is not neccessarily sustainable, which is why the risk of experiencing the yo-yo effect after ending the diet is fairly high.||Dishes and snacks are scientifically sound and are compiled according to your personal requirements for nutrients and vitamins. Also, portion sizes are set according to your goal. These factors result in a healthy and long-term weight loss. The diet can also be carried out over an indefinite period of time.|
Low-Carb Diet and Upfit: Varied nutrition with your own individual diet plan
Nutrition is the key to success when trying to achieve permanent weight loss. A diet plan for losing weight, which helps you acheive and maintain your desired weight, should fit around you and your preferences and should take any allergies into account. Upfit offers the opportunity to fit your diet plan around your individual needs and helps you to lose weight in a healthy way.
If you would like to learn more about Low-Carb, take a look at our detailed discussion about the Low-Carb Diet.