Does The Atkins Diet Really Help You Lose Weight?

Yes, it sure can. But there are some things you need to know, or you could find yourself in big trouble.

Like virtually all diets, the Atkins Diet can cause weight loss to happen faster than would have normally been the case.

The reason we say, “Like virtually all diets,” is that virtually any time you make a change of any kind, the body is forced to adapt and “change.”

This is true whether you start binging on cookies and cakes or go on a low-carb diet and begin ultra-marathon training.

When you change your diet and or exercise program, your body will change to adapt to it.

The Atkins Diet

Disclaimer: The following is for educational purposes only. We are not advocating a change in dietary, health or exercise protocols. Please seek the advice or council of your nutritionally educated health care practitioner prior to engaging in any dietary or exercise changes.

Does The Atkins Diet Work After The First Two Weeks?

This is the real test of a diet. Does it work after the first initial changes your body has to make to adapt to it?

As we’ve discussed, almost every diet will force your body to adapt when you first begin, but then after your body has seen it for a week or two, it sees no reason to change.

This diet, like most diets, only works when you’re in a caloric deficit.

So, remain in a slight caloric deficit, keep your carbs low, and you’ll lose body fat week after week until you hit a plateau, which eventually you will.

At that point, you can either decide to go super low-calorie (which we don’t recommend) or you’ll have to switch to a new diet.

What Is The Atkins Diet And How Does It Work?

This diet lowers your carbohydrate intake in phases so that you’re eventually in a state of ketosis.

Ketosis is a state where your body starts to build ketones from improperly metabolized fat molecules and uses them as a stable energy source.

It then generally starts to break down protein into carbohydrates to feed the brain during the lack of available sugars.

You’re at that point basically fueling your body from ketones and sugars metabolized from protein.

Because this is very inefficient, you end up losing some more weight because of the calories needed (or used) to convert these items. It costs you calories to make these substances, so you end up with a slightly higher overall deficit.

When you combine this with a true caloric deficit and exercise, you will begin to burn fat to make up the difference, which is how you lose weight.

How Much Weight Can You Lose On The Atkins Diet?

For the first month or so, the weight loss can be rather dramatic as your body adapts to the shocks you’ve subjected it to.

There have been people who have lost as much as 20 pounds in the first 30 days. However, please understand that a good portion of this dramatic first weight loss will be water weight.

Then, you’ll likely be able to settle in on somewhere between 1 and 2 pounds per week of fat loss.

You have to remember that one pound of fat is 3,500 calories and that if you have a 500 calorie-a-day deficit including both diet and exercise, it will take you 7 days to burn off one pound of fat.

It’s just math, that’s how long it takes at a 500-calorie per day deficit. If your deficit is only 200 calories, then it would take over 17 days to metabolize that same pound of fat.

So, you need to be super wary of any diets that claim you’ll lose 30 pounds in 30 days and make it sound like that will be all fat. That’s just not the case.

Who Was Dr Robert Atkins?

He was an American physician in the field of cardiology who developed this diet to help his patients lose weight.

How Did Dr Robert Atkins Die?

He died of a head injury on April 17th, 2003, after falling a few days earlier on a slippery bit of cement sidewalk.

Of course, there were all sorts of rumors that he died as a result of his diet. However, according to official reports this is not the case.

What Foods Can You Eat On The Atkins Diet?

Though there have been changes in the diet since Dr. Atkins died, the original diet had you abstaining from carbohydrates and consuming relatively high fat and high protein meals instead.

On the original plan, you were allowed to eat hamburgers with cheese, just not the bread. You could eat meatballs and marinara, just not pasta.

It was a protein and fat-centric diet that we were very surprised was designed by a cardiologist.

The reason people had success with it was that it’s very satiating, you feel satisfied and full most of the time.

Is The Atkins Diet Safe For Diabetics?


Numerous studies show that in the absence of carbohydrates, protein metabolizes into blood glucose very rapidly, stimulating insulin like a carbohydrate-induced blood sugar spike.

When compared directly to the Mediterranean diet, there was no statistical significance in weight loss. However, there was a significant rise in insulin responses to feedings in the Atkins group.

For these reasons, we could not recommend its safety for diabetics.

Does The Atkins Diet Raise Cholesterol?

There are so many studies showing that high meat consumption, especially red meat, promotes higher cholesterol levels that we aren’t even going to comment on it. You already know the answer.

Yes, meat-centric diets do elevate cholesterol compared to those that are plant-based.

Does The Atkins Diet Cause Kidney Damage?

While there is no clinical evidence to date of a high protein diet causing kidney damage or failure, there is evidence that shows that a high protein diet can or may exacerbate a previously existing condition or genetic predisposition.

This is to say that if you don’t already have some kidney damage that you may or may not even be aware of or a genetic tendency towards kidney issues, then you should be fine.

If these things don’t exist, then you really should not have any issues.

If you do have existing issues or a genetic tendency, then you should contact your nutritionally educated healthcare practitioner for a consultation on the matter before engaging in any new dietary changes.

Does The Atkins Diet Cause Joint Pain And Inflammation?

The answer is one that the followers of the diet don’t want to hear, but the answer is yes.

However, to be fair, it’s not just this diet, it’s virtually any high-protein, high-fat diet regardless of whose name is on it.

They all tend to cause inflammation, which then results in joint pain. They may be tempting, but in the long run, are they worth it?

The Atkins Diet

What Are The Atkins Diet Health Benefits?

In our estimation, there are virtually no health benefits that you will or should derive from this diet. It lacks fiber, vital nutrients, phytochemicals, and more.

High protein diets cause constipation, acne, liver disease, high cholesterol, inflammation, arthritis, and other maladies.

Not only that, but because they also lack the vital nutrients and antioxidants, they also don’t protect you against all sorts of challenges, not the least of which is free radical damage.

For these reasons and others, we absolutely cannot say that there are health benefits attached to this diet.

Can You Drink Alcohol On Atkins?

The short answer is no.

Alcohol turns into sugar in the liver, where it’s primarily first stored. Then, once liver glucose levels are topped off, it will store it just like any sugar, that is as adipose tissue (fat) when it is in the presence of a caloric surplus.

Even if it’s a caloric deficit, it still takes you out of ketosis, which you have worked quite hard to get into and your diet relies on.

No, it’s just not a good idea.

What Are The Side Effects Of Atkins Diet?

Yes, there can be long-term use.

These could range anywhere from diabetes to chronic inflammation to liver disease to possible kidney damage if you already had kidney issues or were predisposed to issues genetically.

High protein diets also play a role in joint pain, arthritis, cancer, ulcerative colitis, polyps of the digestive tract, and more.

What you have to realize is that, as humans, we are not designed to eat much if any animal flesh.

The PH of our gut is completely off for the task. We don’t have fangs, claws, or talons, and we don’t salivate at the sight of roadkill as a true carnivore would.

There are many more reasons why we are not compatible with this diet, but even just those few reasons should be enough to show you that you simply aren’t built to eat this way.

I’m On Atkins And Not Losing Weight – Why?

This is the challenge that we alluded to earlier in our conversation.

The dreaded plateau

When you first start a diet, everything’s great. It’s new, you’re excited to see the amazing results you’ve been promised, you start losing weight just like they told you would happen, and then.

Boom, you hit that wall.

No more weight loss.

You start to question, well, what am I doing wrong?

The problem is very simple.

Your body is used to the diet. It sees nothing different, so it sees no reason to change. Why would it?

Think of it like this, your metabolism is like a lazy teenager who sits around and does nothing all day.

Then, mom and dad say, “Get out, get your place.”

Well, the teen gets a job, cleans up their act, and starts being motivated.

Your body is like this.

As long as you’re not modulating your diet with constant change, your body sees no reason to change either.

Why would it?

It’s not being forced to change, and it literally won’t change or adapt until it is forced to do so.

You have to change things up to get your body to start losing weight. 

Whatever diet you’re on, whether this one or another, as soon as you stagnate, you need to change something up.

It could be that you do daily modulation of your calories, cut calories a bit, or add in exercise.

Whatever it is, you must change before your body sees a reason it needs to.

Overall Is The Atkins Diet Safe?

In our estimations, no.

Here’s why.

We just don’t see the benefit of trading your health long-term for the possibility of short-term weight loss.

There are plenty of diet plans out there that don’t potentially cause heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and more.

Why risk your health over it?

OK, sure, being overweight is not healthy either. So, you might be thinking that these are all long-term consequences and you’ll just use it for a little while to help get the weight off.

We get it, it’s tempting.

But there is a much more sinister reason you may wish to consider avoiding this diet.

Will You Rebound And Gain Weight After Being On Atkins?

The answer for the vast majority of people is yes.

There are several reasons why, but this is one most people don’t think about.

Going off the diet means you go back to eating carbs.

Yes, those lovely feel-good foods like pasta and sandwiches with actual bread on them.

This causes most people to overeat.

But even that’s not the real problem.

The real issue is that you’ve trained your body to produce carbs from protein, and now it doesn’t have to.

Any carbs you eat will now adversely affect your insulin levels and cause you to go into body fat storage mode.

Gives you something to think about, doesn’t it?