Promoted by physician Dr. Robert C. Atkins first in the 1960s, the Atkins diet has gained significant popularity throughout the years as an effective weight-loss diet that emphasizes being low on carbs.
The Atkins diet is very similar to the keto diet, as they both aid in weight loss by limiting your carbohydrate intake. However, the Atkins diet differs from the keto diet in that it allows for a slightly higher percentage of calories coming from protein, as well as a gradual increase in carbohydrates as the diet progresses.
The diet is split into 4 distinct phases, aach phase has a different goal, and some might find it beneficial choose to skip some phases, depending on their current health situation and weight goal:
1. Induction: This phase is very similar to keto, and aims to alter your body's main fuel source from carbs to fat. Carb intake is limited to 20g per day (ideally from leafy greans), while eating high-fat and high-protein. However, not every person is suited for this phase, as it promotes a higher rate of weight loss than the other phases. This phase is mainly aimed at people looking to lose more than 14lbs, or those that are highly inactive or have a slow metabolism (1).
2. On-going weight loss: During this phase, you can gradually increase your carb intake by an extra 5g of carbs per week, up to 40g, to find out your carb tolerance (1). You are recommended to slowly added foods like nuts and low-carb vegetables and fruits back to your diet (2). Many people who are looking to lose weight but at a slower rate and still enjoy a wider range of food variety will choose to start at this phase.
3. Pre-maintenance: You should get into this phase as you get closer to reaching your target weight goal. You should increase your carb intake by 10g per week, up to 100g, until you find out your carb balance, which is the ideal level that allows you to reach and maintain your target weight (1).
4. Maintenance: This phase is pretty simple. You can keep eating pretty much the same variety of foods that you did in phase 3, but also dial your carb intake to even a little higher if you want - as long as you don't start regaining weight.
The science behind the atkinds diet is pretty similar to the keto diet as well. Through a low-carb, high-protein and fat consumption, the diet aims to alter your body's metabolism to use fat for energy. By limiting carbohydrates consumption, it reduces the blood sugar and insulin spike that typical high-carb diets induce. Doing so, as the Atkins Diet claims, improves heart health and reduces risk of metabolic syndromes, diabetes, and high blood pressure (3). However, there has been considerable controversy over the diet, as many claim that a high-protein and fat consumption can actually increase the risk of heart diseases and promote the production of free radicals, increasing oxidative stress on the heart muscle (4). Moreover, a Harvard study indicates that a high protein diet may cause permanent loss of kidney function among those with reduced kidney functions (5).
I am in no position to say whether you should believe in the Atkins diet or not. Every diet has its controversies and its pros and cons. There is still a lack of long-term research to examine the health risks of the Atkins diet.
Recommended foods to include: Beef, chicken, salmon, shrimp, greek yogurt, cheese, low-carb leafy greens
Foods to avoid: soft drinks, ice cream, cottonseed oil, conola oil, barley, rice
References: (1) https://sa.atkins.com/why-atkins/the-phases/phase-1-induction/