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The Atkins Diet Revisited

If you’re trying to lose weight, it helps to have a specific plan. I found this out the hard way. Over the past few months I’ve watched my weight creep up very slowly into my discomfort zone. I resolved to reverse the trend by “trying harder to eat healthy food” and to “walk more.”

Seasoned dieters will point out that these vague resolutions were destined to fail, and unfortunately that’s what’s happened. However, my scale has galvanized me into action and I have prepared a very specific plan of attack. I’m going to walk 10,000 steps per day (based on my pedometer) and I’m going to follow the Atkins Diet.

Some of you may gasp, “But Dr. Val, surely you know that the Atkins Diet isn’t healthy!” Yes, that’s what I thought initially too. However, a quick review of the new Atkins Diet site suggests that it may not be as bad as we make it out to be. The old “all you can eat bacon and cheese” approach is not really what Atkins is about. Instead, it’s a staged approach to cutting down on the refined carbohydrates in our diets. The first stage (which only lasts 2 weeks) is quite strict (only 20 grams of carbs/day) but after that you can begin adding back some of the complex carbs that are important to a balanced diet. Spinach has almost no carbs – so I’m going to give Popeye a run for his money this week!

Here’s what I like about the Atkins Diet: 1) it’s really easy to follow 2) you never have to feel hungry 3) I’m an omnivore, so lean meats are enjoyable to me 4) it addresses my personal dietary issue head on: carb addiction.

What I don’t like so much is this: 1) protein can be quite expensive, so expect your grocery bill to increase on this diet 2) you must not cheat, especially in the induction phase – it will throw off the whole process 3) no more cereal or Nutella – ack!

The Atkins Diet is not for everyone – those who have a history of gout, kidney stones, osteoporosis, or kidney problems may not be good candidates as a high protein diet can trigger gouty and kidney stone attacks and can worsen osteoporosis. Also, vegetarians might find it difficult to get enough protein from carb-less sources. And finally, red meat consumption is associated with colon cancer, so if you’re planning to stay on the Atkins diet for long periods of time, try to limit the red meat intake.

However, research has shown that a very low carb diet is an effective approach to weight-loss (perhaps even more effective than other diets) and has a favorable impact on blood cholesterol, insulin, and glucose levels. 

Wish me luck on my new journey – and feel free to join me in my online weight loss group so that we can do this together.

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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10 Responses to “The Atkins Diet Revisited”

  1. ACountryDoctorWrites says:

    I lost about fifteen pounds myself following a “modified” Atkins diet several years ago. As a “recovering vegetarian”, I never indulged in protein excess, only restricted carbs and maximized proteins. I also modified Atkins original diet by omitting bad fats and maximizing good fats. This is what I encourage my patients to do, and I am getting good feedback.

  2. ValJonesMD says:

    Yes, essentially the “new” Atkins Diet IS a modified Atkins. I think it’s quite reasonable – lots of dark green leafy veggies, olive oil, salmon and chicken. I really do think that people (including myself) can get somewhat “addicted” to carbs. Cutting out the refined carbs is a healthy move. (Of course, I’ll probably be trembling and in full withdrawal in another couple of days!)

    Thanks for stopping by the blog. I checked yours out and enjoyed your description of “Lagom.”


  3. Dr. Scherger says:

    Good luck Val.  I find the South Beach Diet the healthy version of the Atkins diet.  The concepts are the same (low carb, ok to eat meat) but the choices are heart healthier.

  4. aviraj says:

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  5. Jimbo60 says:

    Easiest diet – eat smaller meals .

  6. ValJonesMD says:

    I agree with you, Joe, that the South Beach diet is healthier. However the “modified Atkins” is quite similar to South Beach – and the advantage is that it’s even easier to follow. I tried South Beach before, and found it to be healthy and effective, but it was quite prescriptive with the meals and had a daily calorie limit that left me really hungry and uncomfortable.

    I’m trying Atkins because there’s only one rule (in induction phase): eat whatever you want, so long as you don’t exceed 20g of carbs/day. Eventually what happens is that you get tired of protein and naturally reduce your total calorie intake. However, I like the security blanket of knowing that if I feel REALLY hungry I don’t have to deny myself food.  There’s always a cheese stick (or spinach and salmon salad) that I can reach for…

    I also agree with Jimbo60 that portion control is a simple way of losing weight – however it requires a lot of will power – something I don’t seem to have.

    In the end, the effective diet is the one that the dieter will stick to. Some people couldn’t follow Atkins, and it wouldn’t work for them. But fat loss is the goal (and has many health benefits) – how we get there is less important than getting there.  That’s my take after reading the scientific literature.

    Thanks for cheering me on!

  7. RH Host Melissa says:

    Thanks for sharing Dr. Val.  And be sure to keep us updated 🙂

  8. rozzybaby07 says:

    That is a really good point.   I dont think I ever considered the notion of have a specific diet  and exercise plan. I find that what does help me is planning out my daily meals for 2 to 3 days in advance, sometimes a whole week and making sure I have all of the items necessary for my breakfasts lunches and dinners.  I keep the notebook in the kitchen in plain view, so that i see it when i first walk in and its next to the fridge. Also so that i can get a glimpse of what the next day’s meal will be and if there is any food prep i need to do.  How can I determine what diet will be the best for me?

  9. wifezilla says:

    Sorry, the South Beach diet is NOT a healthier Atkin’s. The South Beach Diet is based on the premise that Saturated Fat causes heart disease. Since it DOESN’T and the idea that it does was based on the very flawed 7 nations study by Ancel Keyes (who had data from 22 countries when he did the study…and threw out all the data that didn’t fit his premise) AND there is finally evidence that saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease in the Nurses Study and the Framingham heart study, it kind of blows my mind that people (especially those in the medical profession) still think it is true.

    So basing an entire diet plan on a flawed and unproven premise makes no sense. Even the creator of the South Beach plan, Dr. Arthur Agatston, has changed his stance on saturated fats…

    “AGATSTON: Transfats, they’re the partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils that are found in so many of the baked goods, the commercial baked goods. 

    KING: They’re trying to ban them in some places. 

    AGATSTON: Yes. In New York City they did ban them. They were substituted for tropical oils — coconut and palm oil. 

    KING: Which are bad? 

    AGATSTON: Which were — they were saturated. We thought they were bad. We’re not sure they were so bad. 

    KING: I thought they were bad. 

    AGATSTON: Transfats — everything changes. They may not be so bad. 

    The transfats were polyunsaturated. We thought they were good. It turns out they increase our bad cholesterol. They decrease our good cholesterol. They’re lethal. They’re the worst fats. “

    If you really want a full understanding of why low carbohydrate diets are so effective AND healthy, please get a copy of “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. It isn’t a diet book, but more a history book about where current dietary recommendations came from, the science behind it, and where it all went wrong.

    Another thing, red meat DOES NOT promote colon cancer…

    “Recent studies published in the journal Cancer Science have disproved the common myth that consumption of red meat increases colorectal cancer risk.

    Published by the world’s largest society publisher Wiley-Blackwell, the study also found that consumption of fish and fish products was similarly inversely related to the risk.

    High intake of red meat has traditionally always been associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer, especially in Western countries.”

    While I am happy you are following a low carb diet and believe you will be much healthier for it, it appears you are still operating under the influence of several dietary myths that could eventually undermine your attempt to get healthier and lose weight.

  10. JLx says:

    I also recommend Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. I’m reading it now and find it fascinating.  It might as well have been titled “The Diet Emporers Have No Clothes”. It’s outrageous and mindboggling that we have received various diet recommentations through the last few decades based on  flimsy or downright nonexistent evidence. 

    I don’t understand why this book hasn’t attracted more attention because it’s quite an indictment of the recent quality of science on this topic.  There should be some soul searching (and better health reporting) going on following it’s publication. Good Calories, Bad Calories comes out in paperback Sept. 23., btw.  I usually only read library books but this one I’m going to buy!

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