The Atkins diet – weight loss fast, above all?

The new version of Atkins is one of the most popular low carb diets right now. It consists of a diet consisting mainly of protein and lipids. The goal is to push the body to use other energy channels to lose weight quickly. Even if it is used to treat certain pathologies, its use remains very controversial in the world of weight loss.

New version of Atkins diet: understand everything in 2 minutes

Features of the new Atkins diet:

  • Carbohydrate diet

  • Frequent weight gain

  • Small nutritional variety

  • Hard to follow in the long run

  • Not recommended for kidney failure and diabetes

The main principles of nutrition

It was in the 1970s that Dr. Atkins published his work Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution in which he describes the basic stages of his weight loss diet. So it shows that carbohydrates are responsible for weight gain and that by strictly limiting them, one can have beneficial effects on weight loss as well as the prevention of certain diseases. In 2010, three doctors, international experts in low carb diets, were published The new Atkins diet for a new You who offers a whole new way of living the principles of the Atkins method, which is so much easier and more effective than the models presented in the books that have been published before.

How does the new Atkins diet work?

The Atkins diet consists of 4 phases in which we reduce our carbohydrate intake. Its goal is to cause weight loss, reduce cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure and prevent type 2 diabetes. It is also sometimes recommended (subject to adjustment prescribed by a health professional) for children with epilepsy.

  • First phase: At this stage, which lasts at least 2 weeks, we limit the digestible carbohydrates to 20 g per day, which is about the equivalent of an apple or a slice of bread a day.
  • Second phase: To keep losing weight, but at a slower pace, foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits (berries), cereals, dairy products and legumes, are gradually being restored. The amount of carbohydrates added should not exceed 5 g per day (in addition to 20 g of carbohydrates from the 1st phase). This phase lasts up to 5 kg of the final target weight. For example, 5 g of carbs is one third of a slice of bread.
  • Third phase: The goal of this phase is to continue to slow down weight loss while adopting sustainable long-term eating habits. Each week, 10 g of carbohydrates per day is allowed. If weight loss stops very suddenly, the total number of carbohydrates per day should be reduced from 5 g to 10 g. When the person approaches the target weight, they should control the amount of carbohydrates they can consume without gaining weight (Atkins carbohydrate balance threshold). When the desired weight is stable for four weeks, it is time to move on to the last phase.
  • Fourth phase: this is the way to eat, according to Atkins. People consume a certain amount of carbohydrates depending on their metabolism and physical activity, from 45 g to 100 g. For example, 100 grams of carbohydrates is about two servings of fruit, plus two servings of cereal and two servings of milk or yogurt.

How does the Atkins diet make you lose weight?

By removing carbohydrates from the diet, the body needs to use up its fat stores. This causes the production of ketone bodies that can give bad breath to people who follow this diet. The low variety of “approved” foods and the fairly long duration of each phase often lead to a decrease in food satisfaction and therefore a decrease in appetite which contributes to weight loss. Weight loss will be followed by fatigue and constant tiredness.

How long does the Atkins diet last?

When the desired weight is stable for 4 consecutive weeks, it is still necessary to continue to maintain the Atkins diet from the fourth phase. To avoid weight gain, the diet should be continued without time limit.

Atkins Diet: List of Approved Foods

In the Atkins diet, there is a distinction between foods that are allowed at will and those that would be good to eat in moderation:

Unlimited food

With Measure

Lemon juice
Low carb vegetables
Atkins Products
Sugar successors

Hard cheese
Medium carbohydrate vegetables

Prohibited foods

As with most diets, certain foods are not allowed in the Atkins diet:

  • Sugar

  • Sweet products

  • Starch

  • Cereal

  • Bread and derivatives

  • Legumes

  • Yoghurt

  • Fresh and soft cheese

  • Soft drinks

  • Frozen desserts

  • Fruit and vegetable juices

  • Seeds

  • Oilseeds

  • Fruit

  • Milk

  • Red meat

  • Delicatessen

  • “Light” food

Typical day and menu to follow the new Atkins diet


2 omelets
1 slice of degreased ham
Roventi compote 100gr


Roast beef
Green salad and grated red cabbage
5 black olives


Cucumber and gouda


Salmon steak
Steam asparagus
Green salad

1 avocado

Blue cheese with cow’s milk (40g)

Advantages and disadvantages

The positives of the Atkins diet

  • Helps to raise awareness and reduce sugar in the diet

  • Adequate protein intake

  • Good intake of quality fats

  • Rapid weight loss

The downsides of the new Atkins diet

  • Dangerous in case of diabetes

  • Very low fiber and small nutrient intake

  • High consumption of meat and animal fats dangerous for the heart and kidneys

  • Frequent weight gain

  • Hard to follow and keep

  • It is not compatible with a complete social life

  • It does not allow you to make good eating habits

Recommendations and precautions

Are there any risks?

Under no circumstances should the Atkins diet be followed in people with diabetes, kidney disease or cardiovascular disease. Pregnant and lactating women and all vulnerable populations should also abstain. Absence of fiber, micronutrients and carbohydrates makes this diet relatively dangerous for long-term health. The main risks are: kidney fatigue, deterioration of the cardiovascular system, vitamin deficiencies, transient disorders, severe fatigue, etc.

Is it a diet for you?

This diet is not recommended, except in certain special cases that have been the subject of medical recommendations in favor of a diet without carbohydrates (for example epilepsy, certain cancers, etc.).

Is a diet compatible with sports?

Yes, physical activity is absolutely possible when following the Atkins diet. It helps support weight loss and prevents the loss of muscle tissue, which is often promoted by rapid weight loss. Physical activity also makes you feel better and perpetuates the results you have gained.

How not to gain weight?

The Atkins diet is very restrictive, it seems difficult not to gain weight when the diet stops or with the slightest deviation. That’s why even when the desired weight is stabilized, it is recommended to maintain an Atkins diet for life.

The dietitian’s opinion on the new Atkins diet

This very restrictive diet in my opinion is not suitable for sustainable weight loss or for adopting good eating habits. It can lead to deteriorating health due to excess animal fats and proteins that can lead to cardiovascular disease and premature kidney damage. It is also important to supplement with vitamins (including B1, B9, iron, calcium and magnesium) so that you are not deficient in following this diet. Indeed, the absence of cereals and fruits and vegetables makes this diet quite limited in essential nutrients for the body.

Writing: Léa Zubiria, Dietitian-Nutritionist,
June 2018

Based on the project: Camille Lefebvre, Dietitian-Nutritionist.


  • Eric C. Westman, Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S de. Volek The New Atkins diet. Thierry Souccar Publications, 2011, 268 pages.

  • Atkins, Robert C. Atkins for life : A low carb diet to permanently regain shape and vitality. Itionsditions Plon, France, 2005.

The Atkins diet – weight loss fast, above all?
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