The Atkins Diet says that you can lose 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) in the first two weeks of phase 1 — but it also acknowledges that those aren't typical results. The Atkins Diet also acknowledges that you may initially lose water weight. It says that you'll continue to lose weight in phases 2 and 3 as long as you don't eat more carbs than your body can tolerate.
Most people can lose weight on almost any diet plan that restricts calories — at least in the short term. Over the long term, though, studies show that low-carb diets like the Atkins Diet are no more effective for weight loss than are standard weight-loss diets and that most people regain the weight they lost regardless of diet plan.
Because carbohydrates usually provide over half of calories consumed, the main reason for weight loss on the Atkins Diet is lower overall calorie intake from eating less carbs. Some studies suggest that there are other reasons for weight loss with the Atkins Diet. You may shed pounds because your food choices are limited, and you eat less since the extra protein and fat keep you feeling full longer. Both of these effects also contribute to lower overall calorie intake.
The Atkins Diet says that its eating plan can prevent or improve serious health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In fact, almost any diet that helps you shed excess weight can reduce or even reverse risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
And most weight-loss diets — not just low-carb diets — may improve blood cholesterol or blood sugar levels, at least temporarily. One study showed that people who followed the Atkins Diet had improved triglycerides, suggesting better heart health. But there have been no major studies to show whether such benefits hold up for the long term or increase how long you live.
Some health experts believe that eating a large amount of fat and protein from animal sources, as allowed on the Atkins Diet, can increase your risk of heart disease or some cancers. However, it's not known what risks, if any, the Atkins Diet may pose over the long term because most of the studies about it have lasted for two years or less.
The Atkins Diet acknowledges that drastically cutting carbs in the early phase of the program can result in some side effects, including:
In addition, some very low carb diets restrict carbohydrates so much that they result in nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fiber, which can cause such health problems as constipation, diarrhea and nausea.
Eating carbs that are high fiber, whole grain and nutrient dense can improve the health profile of programs like the Atkins Diet, though. In addition, the Atkins Diet has changed over time to help prevent health problems, and it now recommends taking a small amount of extra salt, along with vitamins or supplements.
It's also possible that restricting carbohydrates to less than 20 grams a day — the level recommended for phase 1 of the diet — can result in ketosis. Ketosis occurs when you don't have enough sugar (glucose) for energy, so your body breaks down stored fat, causing ketones to build up in your body. Side effects from ketosis can include nausea, headache, mental fatigue and bad breath.
In addition, the Atkins Diet isn't appropriate for everyone. For example, the Atkins Diet recommends that you consult your doctor before starting the diet if you take diuretics, insulin or oral diabetes medications. In addition, people with severe kidney disease should not follow the diet, and the weight-loss phases of the diet aren't suitable for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Aug. 16, 2017
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