Truths & Myths

#1 Myth: The Atkins Diet doesn’t work.

Fact: The Atkins Diet does work. Atkins is backed by over 60 studies validating the diet’s principles and its success rate for weight loss and weight management.

One recent example is the NIH funded Stanford University Diet Study published March 7, 2007 in the Journal of American Medical Association.  This study found that the Atkins Diet delivered the strongest weight loss results with the most beneficial metabolic effects among four top diet regimens.  (The study compares Atkins against the Zone, LEARN and Ornish diets).

Unlike other diets, Atkins is not based on limiting calories and deprivation, but rather choosing the right nutrient-dense foods that allow the body to feel fuller while burning more fat and working more efficiently.

#2 Myth: The Atkins Diet is unhealthy.

Fact: Atkins is a natural and effective approach to weight loss and weight management. The Atkins Diet encourages consumption of a healthy balance of nutrient dense foods: lean protein, a full array of fibrous vegetables and fruits and good fats while limiting refined carbohydrates, refined sugar and trans fats. Choosing foods in this manner allows the body to burn more fat and work more efficiently while helping individuals to feel less hungry, more satisfied and more energetic.

An ever-growing body of research demonstrates the health benefits of a controlled-carbohydrate approach in the face of the standard American diet of white flour, sugar and other junk foods.   Simply put, the Atkins Nutritional Approach (ANA) is indeed a healthier, more balanced way of eating and living.

#3 Myth: The Atkins Diet is unbalanced and means only eating rich foods like steak, eggs and bacon and no fruits or vegetables.

Fact:  Actually, the Atkins Diet allows you to eat ample portions of vegetables, and in the later phases, more nutrient-dense carbohydrates like fruits and whole grains.

It’s only during the first of the four phases of the Atkins Nutritional Approach, called Induction, that more lean protein is encouraged as a way to supercharge the body’s fat burning power and jump-start weight loss.  But not everyone needs to start at Induction to see positive results with Atkins.

After the typical two-week Induction phase, if you choose to start here, the Atkins program allows you to gradually expand your food choices so you can ultimately enjoy a healthy balance of the nutrient-dense foods from a variety of food groups – lean protein, a full array of colorful, fibrous vegetables and fruits, nuts, legumes, and if your metabolism allows, whole grains and good fats – all while reducing levels of refined carbohydrates, refined sugars, and trans fats. When it comes to the four food groups, the Atkins Diet includes a variety of foods from each one.  The plan provides helpful guidelines to help select the best options, steering you away from the starchier varieties.

#4 Myth: It’s a high-protein, no-carb diet.

Fact: It’s an optimal protein, reduced carbohydrate diet. People frequently mistake the Induction phase for the entire Atkins program. At Induction, the plan allows you to eat 20 net carbs with 12 to 15 net carbs coming from vegetables. After Induction is complete, you increase your carb count gradually until you reach your own carb tolerance level and goal weight. You eat a variety of protein choices in 4 to 6 ounce serving size.

#5 Myth: It’s the bacon, egg and cheese diet.

Fact:  You eat a wide variety of food on Atkins, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. On Atkins, you should consume a minimum of 12 to 15 net carbs of non-starchy vegetables daily, increasing the amount with the intake of low-glycemic fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains after Induction. This is more fruits, veggies than most Americans consume on a regular basis!

#6 Myth: The Atkins Diet is too restrictive.

Fact: Contrary to popular belief, the Atkins Diet allows you to consume a wide variety of foods, all framed within a context of eating fewer refined carbohydrates and refined sugars, and eating more of the right foods.

One of the keys to success with the Atkins approach is learning to eat nutrient-dense carbohydrates for the rest of your life. These are foods that are packed with the most antioxidant vitamins and healthful phytochemicals relative to the amount of carbohydrates--so you’re getting the most “bang” for your carbohydrate “buck.”  Once you reach your goal weight and determine how many carbohydrates you can consume each day to maintain that weight, most people can enjoy a wide variety of food choices that include protein choices, vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, legumes, and whole grains.

#7 Myth: Atkins is a fad diet.

Fact: It’s a long-term lifestyle. It’s sustainable since you’re limiting but not eliminating carbs. According to the Natural Marketing Institute, 44% of American adults today control their carb intake. Plus, Atkins is time-tested, the basics of the diet having been introduced in 1972.

At the same time, a growing body of peer-reviewed research also continues to support the fact that the Atkins Diet works and leads to successful weight loss/management along with a variety of other health benefits.

#8 Myth: Dr. Atkins died of a heart attack.

Fact: Dr. Atkins died as a result of a serious head injury from a fall that occurred April 8th, 2003. Hospital records detail the clinical course that occurred following arrival of Emergency Medical Services through the entirety of his hospitalization, confirming that after losing consciousness on the way to the hospital, Dr. Atkins condition failed to improve despite emergency neurosurgical treatment.  Dr. Atkins was adamant about not wanting life support, and when his wishes were honored, he passed away on April 17th when ventilator life support was withdrawn.

Near the end of his life, Dr. Atkins was struggling with the effects of cardiomyopathy, and he did not hide that fact. Cardiomyopathy is a serious and progressive condition caused by a viral infection. Though this condition weakened his heart, its cause was clearly related to an infection and not his diet.

#9 Myth: People following the Atkins Nutritional Approach suffer from lack of energy due to the lack of carbohydrates.

Fact: The body is equipped to use two sources of energy; carbohydrate and fat. When carbs are low enough, the body will switch to fat burning, which is our back up fuel system.
Lack of energy may occur in the first few days of doing Atkins, while the body adapts to switching metabolic pathways. It typically takes about three to five days for the body to switch from sugar metabolism to fat metabolism. When your body becomes accustomed to burning fat for fuel, these symptoms go away.

#10 Myth: It’s high-fat leading to high cholesterol levels.

Fact: Fat is your friend on Atkins. Studies have shown Atkins to reverse markers for heart disease and insulin resistance. Natural fats, even saturated fats, pose no health risk on Atkins because you are burning fat for fuel. Rather it is the combo of fat with a high intake of carbs that is linked to heart disease and other serious conditions. Fat is the essential nutrient that makes low-carb eating safe and effective. In addition, by reducing your carb intake, your body will burn both dietary and body fat.

#11 Myth: Because it excludes fruits, vegetables and grains, Atkins is deficient in nutrients.

Fact: The Atkins Nutritional Approach does not exclude fruits, vegetables and grains.  The initial Induction phase of Atkins, which people often mistake for the entire program, is the strictest phase, permitting 20 grams of net carbohydrates. However, 70 percent of those come in the form of vegetables including green leafy salad, as well as nutrient-dense, high fiber, vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, eggplant and spinach.

The concern for the phytochemical content of the Atkins Diet is unwarranted since the diet encourages the individual to consume a daily minimum of 12 net carbs coming from non-starchy vegetables, increasing the amount along with the intake of low-glycemic fruits, nuts/seeds, legumes and whole grains after the first several weeks of induction. The Atkins recommendation of 12 net carbs daily is more than most Americans consume on a regular basis.

#12 Myth: It's only for meat eaters.

Truth: You can follow Atkins using only fish and poultry , or even as a vegetarian or a vegan! You can follow Atkins as a vegetarian or vegan, as long as you consume at least 2 varieties of plant protein each day, add extra healthy oils to your diet and start in Phase II- Ongoing Weight Loss at 30 grams of net carbs.

Disclaimer: Nothing contained on this Site is intended to provide health care advice. Should you have any health care-related questions, please call or see your physician or other health care provider. Consult your physician or health care provider before beginning the Atkins Diet as you would any other weight loss or weight maintenance program. The weight loss phases of the Atkins Diet should not be used by persons on dialysis or by pregnant or nursing women.