Published: 01/05/2022

How does the Atkins Diet compare to other low-carbohydrate diets?

The Atkins Nutritional Approach is built on science and designed for life.

One of the unique things about the Atkins diet is that the program reintroduces carbohydrates as patients lose weight and/or improve their glycemic tolerance. This approach is supported through years of practical experience, which has shown that variety is important for compliance. Furthermore, this is the approach that has been demonstrated to be successful in many randomized control trials of low carbohydrate diets (33-35).

Moreover, today’s Atkins Nutritional Approach is intended to provide the support and flexibility needed for a lifetime of healthy behaviors, not just short-term weight loss. Rather than providing all-or-nothing rules, it offers an adaptable and individualized road map across three program options – Atkins 20, Atkins 40, and Atkins 100. Each plan is designed around different intakes of “net carbs”, total carbohydrates minus fiber in whole foods.

  • Atkins 20 allows people to follow a structured approach to reduce overall net carbohydrate intake. In Phase 1, net carbs are limited to 20-25 grams/day until the patient is within 15 pounds of goal weight. Net carbs are then liberalized to 25-50 grams/day in Phase 2, which typically lasts until the patient is within 10 pounds of his/her goal weight. Net carbs are increased to 50-80 grams/day in Phase 3 until goal weight is achieved, and finally to 80-100 grams/day in Phase 4 – “Lifetime Maintenance.” This ketogenic plan is ideal for those looking to lose 40 pounds or more.
  • Atkins 40 begins with a slightly higher baseline net carb intake of 40 grams/day. As the individual approaches his/her weight-loss goals, net carb amounts are gradually liberalized by 10 grams of net carbs/week until goal weight maintenance is achieved. This ketogenic plan is ideal for those looking to lose fewer than 40 pounds.
  • Atkins 100 is a low carbohydrate diet focused on consuming 100 grams of net carbs/day. It is a flexible yet carbohydrate-conscious approach to a long-term, healthy lifestyle. While not technically a ketogenic plan, the net carb level achieved with Atkins 100 is ideal for those looking to maintain their weight and achieve long-term health goals.

While program phases are designed to be progressively liberal, clinicians may encourage patients to go at their own pace. Carbohydrate tolerance levels are personalized; there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the lifetime maintenance. Individuals may choose to start their process at a later phase and move forward or backward in whatever way feels most manageable and best meets their needs. Plans can also be adjusted to honor individual patients’ food preferences, culinary traditions, and fitness choices.