Atkins diet
Atkins diet


The Atkins diet is a low-carb, high-protein diet with four phases. It focuses on eliminating carbs that raise blood sugar levels quickly after eating.

Carbohydrates that raise blood sugar quickly are called high glycemic index foods. It's believed that high glycemic index foods might cause the body to excrete extra insulin, which results in fat build-up, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. But there's a lot of debate on whether this is true.

People use the Atkins diet for obesity. It's also used for diabetes, epilepsy, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Don't confuse the Atkins diet with other low-carb diets, particularly the modified Atkins diet, which is a type of ketogenic diet.
The Atkins diet is likely safe when used appropriately for up to 1 year. But there isn't enough reliable information to know if following the Atkins diet for more than 1 year is safe. There's some concern that people who restrict carbohydrates long-term might have a higher risk of death compared to those with moderate carbohydrate intake, especially those who focus on eating high amounts of saturated animal fat and carbohydrates with limited nutrients. It's important to ensure that any diet remains balanced and contains nutrient-rich foods.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if the Atkins diet is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Heart conditions: Following the Atkins diet long-term might make certain heart conditions worse. Use cautiously.

High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia): Following the Atkins diet might raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol. But it might also raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol. It you already have high levels of these fats in the blood, talk to your doctor before starting the Atkins diet.


NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Obesity. Following the Atkins diet for up to one year can help people lose 2-6 kg in body weight. But it might not help with weight loss any more than other types of diets.
There is interest in using the Atkins diet for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

The Atkins diet has four phases. The first phase, called induction, lasts for 2 weeks and is the most restrictive. Lean, high-protein foods, such as beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, and cheeses are allowed. Carb intake should be limited to 20 grams daily. Phase 2, called ongoing weight loss, slowly increases carb intake.

Phase 3 is called pre-maintenance. It allows increasing carb intake by 10 grams per week. People enter this phase when they are 5-10 lbs away from their goal and stay in this phase until they reach their target weight. Phase 4, or lifetime maintenance, is the final phase. The goal of this phase is a carb balance that helps to maintain the target weight. Speak to your healthcare professional before starting this diet.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)

Interaction Rating=Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Following the Atkins diet might lower blood sugar levels. Following this diet while taking diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar: Following the Atkins diet might lower blood sugar. Following this diet while taking other supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, chromium, and prickly pear cactus.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods. has licensed monographs from TRC Healthcare.
This monograph was last reviewed on 28/12/2022 18:55:21 and last updated on 18/02/2023 07:09:42. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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