Principles of the Atkins Lifestyle

The Atkins Lifestyle is driven by science and designed for life

Backed by decades of independent, peer-reviewed research, Scientific Advisory Board oversight, and support from the health professional community, this approach is both evidence-based and ever-adaptable to meet individual needs.

Three flexible plans allow your patients to find their best-fit approach that works well with their lifestyle, preferences and health goals: Atkins 20®, Atkins 40®, and Atkins 100®.

Though each plan is structured differently, all underscore the same dietary principles:

  • Reduce intake of ‘net carbs’ – total carbohydrates minus fiber and sugar alcohols and allulose (where applicable)
  • Emphasize adequate protein and healthy fats
  • Include small to moderate portions of high-fiber carb sources
  • Limit refined grains and added sugars

Weight Management and Wellness 

Weight Loss

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept

The Atkins Diet is designed for safe and effective weight loss. Through the Atkins Nutritional Approach, carbohydrates are sufficiently restricted to shift the body into lipolysis and ketosis, preferentially oxidizing stored fat for energy, breaking down adipose tissue, and facilitating weight loss. This approach may be especially effective for patients who have struggled to lose weight by other means, those reluctant to count calories or restrict fat, or those with lifestyle-related comorbidities. For example:

  • Research demonstrates the efficacy of low-carbohydrate diets (LCDs), like the Atkins Nutritional Approach, over low-fat diets (LFDs) and other conventional, calorie-restricted dietary interventions. This advantage may be attributed to LCDs’ dual ability to break down fat for fuel and inhibit fat storage (1, 2, 3, 4).
  • Additional evidence shows LCDs’ ability to promote greater weight loss with smaller calorie deficits compared to LFDs, which helps promote improved dietary compliance (5, 6).
  • Multiple studies have shown LCDs result in greater percentages of fat loss and better retention of lean body mass compared to other dietary interventions. A comprehensive analysis of 87 studies concluded that LCDs have a favorable effect on both body mass and body composition (7), with some evidence suggesting that abdominal fat may be particularly targeted (8).

Weight Maintenance

True success with any weight loss program is the ability to keep the weight off and achieve a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. That’s why the Atkins Nutritional Approach provides personalized support and structure for life by helping individuals establish their unique Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE) – the carbohydrate intake found to promote weight maintenance and protect against weight regain. Studies show this continued carbohydrate restriction, combined with higher protein intake, promotes acute weight-loss and long-term weight maintenance.

Talking Over a Healthy Lunch

For example:

  • Evidence suggests that higher protein, lower carbohydrate diets (25% and 45% of total daily calorie intake, respectively), can minimize adaptive thermogenesis after weight loss, thereby avoiding the concurrent decrease in metabolic rate that often stymies long-term weight loss maintenance (9).
  • Studies have also shown LCDs produce significantly greater resting and total energy expenditure during periods of weight loss maintenance compared to isocaloric LFDs (10, 11).
  • Sustained caloric restriction is often easier on an LCD, due to increased feelings of satiety and decreased cravings associated with choosing foods that are lower in carbohydrate, higher in fat, and contain adequate protein (12, 13, 14).

Good Health

The Atkins Nutritional Approach provides a nutritionally complete diet and is more likely to ensure adequate nutrient intakes and good health compared to a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet. Studies have demonstrated the ability to include a variety of nutrient-dense foods and meet micronutrient needs while following an LCD meal plan (15, 16). For example:

  • Despite limiting carbohydrate-containing foods, LCDs have been found to increase mean daily fiber intake compared to baseline fiber consumption (17) and encourage intake of phytonutrient-rich plant foods (18, 19). These dietary improvements are likely due to LCDs’ emphasis on high-fiber/low-glycemic vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • LCDs help stabilize metabolism during weight loss, and thus, require less drastic calorie reductions to achieve and maintain weight loss compared to standard low-fat/calorie-restricted diets (5, 6, 11, 20) thereby allowing more opportunities to meet micronutrient needs through dietary choices.

Disease Prevention

Patients who are at high risk for, or diagnosed with certain chronic diseases, can see improvement in clinical parameters by following an individualized Atkins Diet plan. Research increasingly shows carbohydrate restriction results in global improvements in biomarkers related to metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Senior man monitoring his blood pressure at home

For example:

  • Multiple studies have demonstrated that carbohydrate restriction helps lower hemoglobin A1c and fasting glucose levels, reduce serum insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce or obviate medication requirements in patients with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance (21, 22, 23, 24).
  • Increasing evidence suggests LCDs promote cardiovascular health by reducing plasma triglycerides, increasing HDL cholesterol, and improving LDL cholesterol particle-size patterns (25, 26, 27).
  • Several dozen studies have examined the efficacy of LCDs compared to LFDs; findings show LCDs do as well or better than LFDs in improving metabolic syndrome biomarkers. These studies support the use of the Atkins Diet as a powerful clinical tool in the long-term management of obesity-related chronic diseases (1, 5, 28).

Click here to learn more about the current body of evidence supporting the efficacy of LCDs and the Atkins Nutritional Approach.