What is the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins diet was developed in the 1970s by the American cardiologist Dr. Robert Atkins founded. This is a low-carb diet in which carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, pasta or sweets are greatly reduced on the menu. The aim is for the body to use its stored fat as a source of energy so that you lose weight.

Read more on the topic: Low carb diet

The Atkins diet consists of four phases, which differ greatly in the amount of carbohydrate intake allowed on a daily basis. While phase one is supposed to combat obesity quickly, phase four serves as a permanent diet.

Course of the diet

The Atkins Diet consists of four diet phases. A key feature of this diet is the low carbohydrate intake.The amount of allowed carbohydrates is clearly regulated in the Atkins diet, which means that different amounts of carbohydrates are allowed in the different diet phases and diet weeks. This is used for rapid weight loss at the beginning of the diet, weight loss over a long period of time until reaching the desired weight and finally maintaining the desired weight.

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The fourth phase of the Atkins diet is understood as a permanent diet and should ideally be carried out for life. The Atkins Diet dictates which foods are allowed and which are forbidden. You can basically eat your fill and snacks are also allowed.

You might also be interested in this topic: Diet without carbohydrates

Stages of the Atkins Diet

Phase I, also known as the induction diet or induction phase, is carried out for 14 days. During this time, a maximum of 20 grams of carbohydrates may be consumed daily. High-fat foods and lots of protein are allowed and should be combined with low-carb vegetables such as leafy greens. This intensive change in diet is supposed to get the weight loss going.

Phase II, the basic weight loss diet, aims to achieve the desired weight loss over a longer period of time. Here, week after week, more nutrient-rich carbohydrates are brought to the table, such as nuts, beans or legumes. The amount of carbohydrates is increased by 5 grams every week, i.e. 25 grams of carbohydrates in the first week of phase II, 30 grams in the second week of phase II, etc. If you no longer lose weight, it is recommended to reduce the amount of carbohydrates again Reduce 5 grams.

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When the desired weight loss has almost been achieved, the pre-maintenance diet, phase III, follows. During this phase of the diet, the carbohydrate amounts are increased further, by 10 grams every week, as long as one is still losing weight.

When the target weight is reached, the Atkins diet provides for a lifelong maintenance diet. This phase IV of the diet allows plenty of food, while pasta and potatoes are still allowed only occasionally. This diet phase is a permanent diet designed to prevent gaining weight again.

Find out more about the topic: Lose weight without hunger- is that possible?

What can i eat?

As part of the Atkins diet, numerous fatty protein sources may be eaten. This includes meat products such as beef, pork, chicken, lamb or bacon. Fish and seafood such as salmon, trout and sardines are also on the menu. Eggs and dairy products such as butter, cheese, cream or full-fat yoghurt are safe to eat.

You can also eat low-carb vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, asparagus and broccoli. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts or sunflower seeds are also allowed. It is important to add healthy fats to the food, such as virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or avocados as a whole. All of these foods are allowed to be eaten without counting the calories.

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However, soft drinks, fruit juices, sweets, cereals and ready meals are prohibited. Also, high-carbohydrate vegetables such as carrots and fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges, pears and grapes are forbidden during the induction diet. In the first phase, no potatoes, lentils, beans or cherry peas may be consumed. After the introductory phase, you can begin to gradually add these healthy carbohydrates to the menu and increase their amount.

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Read more on the topic: Lose weight by changing your diet


At breakfast it is important that it fills you up and keeps you full for as long as possible. The Atkins diet makes it easier to put together hearty meals. For breakfast, for example, you can fry eggs and vegetables, for example in high-quality coconut oil. Good vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, onions, asparagus, and spinach.

An omelette with vegetables can also be eaten well for breakfast, for example fried in butter. A popular breakfast that works great on the Atkins diet is bacon and eggs. If you prefer it sweet and fruity for breakfast, you can have yogurt with berries, after phase I yogurt with other low-carbohydrate fruits such as apples, pears or grapes.

Lunch and dinner

Both lunch and dinner can be made very uncomplicated with the Atkins diet and are very compatible with professional life. Since all types of meat and fish as well as eggs, dairy products and low-carb vegetables are allowed, the dishes can be designed in a variety of ways. A couple of examples are:

  • Chicken salad with olive oil and nuts

  • Chicken and vegetables

  • Shrimp Salad with Olive Oil

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  • Meatloaf with vegetables

  • Steak with vegetables

  • Cheeseburger without rolls with vegetables and butter

  • Salmon with butter and vegetables

  • Meatballs with vegetables

  • Pork Chops with Vegetables Grilled Chicken Wings with Salsa and Vegetables

Most of these dishes can be prepared very well and taken to the office, or the leftovers of a meal can be used the next day. For example, you can eat chicken salad with olive oil on Monday and the rest of the chicken with vegetables for dinner on Tuesday. As part of the Atkins diet, breakfast dishes such as eggs with bacon or omelets with vegetables were also popular for dinner. It is only important that the permitted amount of carbohydrates is observed and only those foods are consumed that are actually permitted.

Where Can I Find Good Atkins Diet Recipes?

The Internet provides numerous delicious recipes for the Atkins diet, adapted to the different diet phases and the corresponding permitted foods. You will find a variety of recipe ideas that are differently difficult to prepare so that everyone can find something suitable. There are also countless books on the Atkins diet.

There are various books on the Atkins diet by the founder of the diet, Robert Atkins. Books often bring shopping lists, daily and weekly plans with them, which makes structuring the diet easier for one or the other. Depending on your preference, you can choose between websites and Atkins books and conjure up delicious recipes.

How much can I lose weight with this form of diet?

The Atkins diet theoretically allows you to lose as much weight as you want. You set yourself a goal, the desired weight, and follow the diet phases until you reach the desired weight. Then you should stick to phase 4 of the Atkins diet permanently in order to maintain the desired weight. For example, you can lose 5 kilos or 15 kilos. Depending on the objective, phases 2 and 3 are carried out for different lengths of time.

Side effects of the diet

A major side effect of the Atkins diet is the noticeable bad breath. Due to the ketogenic diet, the ketone body acetone is exhaled through the mouth. Especially at the beginning of the diet, many people experience headaches, fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, and constipation. These symptoms can also appear during the course of the diet, then as symptoms of the deficiency symptoms.

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Find out more about the topic: Ketogenic Diet- What Really Benefits You?

In the long term, the fatty, protein-rich diet can damage the kidneys and bone changes. Kidney stones can be a symptom of kidney damage. In addition, the high percentage of fat in this type of diet significantly increases the cardiovascular risk for diseases such as heart attack, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and a stroke.


Diarrhea can occur with any diet change, but is rare on the Atkins diet. Often those affected suffer from constipation. Carbohydrates cause water to enter the colon and make stool more fluid. With the Atkins diet, carbohydrates are rarely ingested, so the stool becomes firmer. It is therefore particularly important to bring as much of the permitted fiber as possible on the table. Fiber effectively stimulates digestion.

Bad breath

The Atkins diet is a ketogenic form of nutrition in which so-called ketone bodies are produced in the body. One of these ketone bodies is acetone, a smelling substance that is known from nail polish remover, for example. People on a ketogenic diet breathe out ketone bodies like acetone. Acetone-related bad breath is a common side effect of the Atkins diet and is caused by the ketogenic diet.

What are the risks?

The Atkins diet increases cardiovascular risk due to its high fat content. This means that the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke or peripheral arterial disease (PAD) increases. Dangerous acidosis is at risk in diabetics who take the drug metformin. Both the ketogenic diet of the Atkins diet and the diabetes drug promote the development of an acidic metabolism.

Acidification of the blood can be life-threatening. In addition, there is a risk of deficiency symptoms. This means that if you change your diet over the long term, you have to make sure that you supply the body with the necessary vitamins, nutrients and trace elements. Previously ill people or those who are taking medication should talk to their doctor before starting a diet to find out whether the diet is suitable for them. If you are on the diet for several months, you should, whether healthy or not, have a blood count done every now and then to check your blood values.

How can I avoid the yo-yo effect with this diet?

Basically, the Atkins diet is one of the few diets that prevent the yo-yo effect. Due to the clearly structured phase program of the Atkins diet, the carbohydrate intake is only increased slowly and reduced again when weight gain is increased.

A yo-yo effect often occurs when you suddenly return to "normal" or very "generous" food after a radical diet. The Atkins diet understands phase 4 as a permanent form of nutrition. This means that the metabolism adapts itself in the course of the diet and not, as with most other diets, switches to the back burner and stores love handles after the diet.

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Read more on the topic: Lose weight without the yo-yo effect - how does it work?

What is the cost of an Atkins diet?

The Atkins diet is a form of diet rich in fat and protein in which meat and fish are eaten in large quantities. Here it is worth buying good meat from the region as well as high-quality fish and seafood. In addition, valuable oils such as coconut or avocado oil are recommended in the Atkins diet, which are more expensive than the cheap rapeseed or sunflower oil.

For the low-carbohydrate vegetables, you can choose fresh seasonal vegetables and frozen vegetables. However, cheap finished products are taboo. Overall, the cost of the Atkins diet is higher than some other diets. Particularly when it comes to animal products, you should make sure to buy high quality products. The expenses for the food are nevertheless individually different with this diet, for example not everyone eats fresh seafood every day.

Can you eat a vegetarian diet while on the Atkins Diet?

It is actually possible to make the Atkins diet vegetarian or even vegan. However, this is very difficult! Soy products, for example, can be used as protein sources and many nuts and seeds can be eaten.

Coconut oil and olive oil are vegetable fats that are equally good for vegetarians. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can also consume eggs, butter, cheese, cream and other high-fat dairy products. If you want to follow the Atkins diet vegetarian, you should inform yourself well beforehand and bring suitable vegetarian protein sources to the table.

Is the Atkins Diet compatible with alcohol?

During the first two weeks of the Atkins Diet, the Induction Diet, alcohol is strictly prohibited and should not be consumed. After the first phase, alcohol is allowed to be consumed, as long as the alcohol does not stop weight loss. If you drink alcohol, it should only be done on certain occasions and in small quantities.

When choosing the alcohol, the amount of carbohydrates must be taken into account according to the Atkins principle. That means a glass of dry red wine is occasionally compatible with the diet. When it comes to beer, preference should be given to low-carbohydrate light varieties. Mix drinks such as high-percentage alcohols with soft drinks such as cola (e.g. vodka-cola) or mixed beer drinks should be avoided completely.

What successes can be expected?

The principle of the four phases of the Atkins diet is in principle promising in terms of weight loss. The first two weeks of the diet are ideal for boosting your metabolism, the other, special diet lets the pounds drop. The metabolism is tricked and the love handles burn. A yo-yo effect is prevented by slowly increasing the amount of carbohydrates.

You don't go hungry and you can continue to lose weight. It is possible to reach your target weight if you strictly adhere to the diet guidelines. The fourth phase of the Atkins diet is considered a permanent form of nutrition and is intended to help maintain the desired weight. If you stick to the program in every phase, it is possible to achieve and even maintain your individual weight loss goal.

What are the alternatives to the Atkins Diet?

There are several low-carb diets that are great alternatives to the low-carb Atkins diet. The Logi method basically allows you to eat anything. However, this is based on the four-level logi pyramid. The focus is on a selection of foods that are low in starch and sugar but high in fiber, for example vegetables, fruits and healthy oils. Protein suppliers like meat, fish and dairy products, which are at the top of the Atkins diet, come second here. Whole grain products, rice and pasta only come in third place. However, these foods may only be eaten in very small quantities. The Logi method is primarily based on the glycemic index of the food.

Read more on the topic: Logi method

The Montignac method works in a similar way. This diet distinguishes between good carbohydrates with a low glycemic index and bad carbohydrates with a high glycemic index. This diet provides a protein-based form of nutrition and consists of two phases, whereby the second phase is also understood as a permanent diet, as in the Atkins diet.

Another alternative is the Glyx diet. The term "glycemic index" is also in the foreground here. Mainly foods with a low glycemic index should be consumed, so that sweets, soft drinks and ready meals are clearly taboo. The Glyx diet only allows three meals a day, snacks between meals are completely prohibited.

Further information on the subject can be found at: Glyx diet

Criticism of the Atkins Diet

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) rejects the Atkins diet because it is one-sided and potentially harmful to health. One reason for this is the extremely high fat content of the Atkins diet of more than 50%. The diet allows you to eat fatty foods in bulk. The Atkins diet leads to a special metabolic state in the body. Since hardly any carbohydrates are supplied to the body through food, the body switches its metabolism. It begins with the combustion of the body's own fats to generate energy. The Atkins diet uses this effect to reduce body weight.

For the body, this metabolic situation means that fatty acids get from the love handles to the liver. The liver converts the fatty acids into ketone bodies, a kind of glucose substitute. The body goes into ketosis. One sign is the bad breath, which is caused by exhaling the ketone body acetone. There are different opinions about the effects of permanent ketosis on our bodies. Some critics report cell-toxic effects from the Atkins diet. Ketosis is said to cause vascular and tissue damage, especially in diabetics.

Read more on the topic: Lose weight by burning fat

A ketogenic diet is particularly dangerous for patients with renal insufficiency and diabetics taking metformin. The drug metformin and the ketogenic diet promote an acidotic metabolism, i.e. dangerous to life-threatening acidification of the blood. Other nutritionists describe links between the ketogenic diet and acne and constipation. Especially if you are taking medication and suffer from chronic illnesses, you should talk to your doctor about the form of nutrition before starting the Atkins diet.

Medical evaluation of the Atkins diet

There is no doubt that the Atkins Diet leads to success.If you stick to the phases of the Atkins diet, you will lose love handles and maybe reach your desired weight. Nonetheless, the Atkins diet is a highly controversial diet. Carbohydrates are almost completely eliminated from the menu, while fatty, protein-containing foods can be consumed en masse.

The Atkins diet results in a fat content of more than 50%, which is definitely not balanced. The Atkins diet provides options for making meals versatile. However, since many foods are taboo, the Atkins diet is and remains one-sided. This diet is also intended as a permanent diet, which significantly increases the risk of deficiency symptoms.

In addition, the cardiovascular risk increases considerably. This means that with an Atkins diet, illnesses like a heart attack or stroke are more likely. There is also the aspect of ketosis. This diet is a ketogenic diet in which a special metabolic situation arises. A ketogenic diet can be life-threatening for diabetics taking metformin or people with kidney failure.

Even in healthy people, the risk of kidney damage increases from such a diet. In summary, it can be said that the Atkins diet definitely leads to weight loss, but at the same time brings with it not inconsiderable risks. From a medical point of view, the Atkins diet is only suitable for healthy individuals for a short period of a few months. As a permanent form of nutrition, we consider the Atkins Diet to be dangerous.

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