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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How effective is the Atkins diet?

    Does anyone understand the Atkins diet and can guide me through the four phases?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Ashleigh is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD, AN) and registered with the Dietitian's Association of Australia with experience in both clinical and private practice. Ashleigh's … View Profile

    The Atkins diet is a low carb, high protein, high fat diet thought to promote weight loss, which often, in the early stages, it does. Simply because you eliminate all carbohyrates (carbs) and thus processed foods. The atkins diet is divided into 4 phases: induction, weight loss, pre-maintenance and maintenance phases.

    • Induction - virtually nil carbohydrate. All  bread, rice, pasta, milk and fruit are eliminated. You are allowed mixed green/salad vegetables and avocado.
    • Weight loss - this phase allows you to increase your carb intake by 5g a day until you reach the carbohydrate level where you continue to lose weight. For some this may be 20g, for others, up to 50g. This is still much less than the general healthy population would consume. In this phase you can expand your vegetable intake o include fruit, nuts and seeds.
    • Pre-maintenance - allows you to further increase you carb intake. You may now include very small amounts of starchy foods such as sweet potato.
    • Maintenance - may still require you to limit your carbs to less than 90g per day.

    The Atkins diet, however is still high in fat (particularly saturated fat) with no limit on recommended fat intake. Remember - too much of a good thing can still be bad! Fibre intake is also very low, particularly in the early phases, as many fruits and wholegrains are restricted from the diet. On a positive note, the benefits of a higher protein intake for weight loss are now well documented. Research shows that protein has a satiating effect – in other words, it helps to keep us fuller for longer. This means eating more protein is certainly a good idea if we want to lose weight.

    But increasingly, research shows that the hunger-beating benefits of protein are greatest when they are combined with good intakes of fibre – something this diet doesn’t do.

    If you are seeking healthy, sustainable weight loss, I recommend you seek advice from an accredited practising dietitian to tailor your diet and develop eating habits specific to your needs.


  • Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    Atkins is based on a reduced carbhydrate principle which as been shown to be effective (see articles below).

    However as mentioned above the recommended protein load may is not ideal. You may also wish to consider a 'ketogenic diet' which has less focus on protein. 

    It is also important to note everybody is unique, so there is no one size fits all approach. 

    All the best!!!

  • 1


    Elizabeth Newsham-West is committed to optimising the health and well-being of people across all ages within the Mount Tamborine community.  She works as a domicillary … View Profile

    The Aitkens diet is a Ketogenic Diet!!!

    High fat, low carbohydrate to put a person in ketosis.There are varying amounts of carbohydrate and  fat to get ketosis but essentially it is about getting as little energy from carbohydrate foods <10% of energy, and increasing fat to really high levels so the body relys on getting its energy from coverting fat into ketones as a source of energy instead of glucose.

    A systematic review of low-carbohydrate/ KD find that the weight loss achieved is related to the restriction of energy intake, but not the restriction of carbohydrates. While weight loss may be more quickly achieved on a low-carbohydrate diet in the short term, in the long term there is often no difference when compared with less restrictive diets.

    The ideology around the KD is weight loss is achieved because of the depletion of glycogen stores, leading to excretion of bound water, the ketogenic nature of the diet being appetite suppressing, the high protein-content being highly satiating and reducing spontaneous food intake, or limited food choices leading to decreased energy intake. The long-term effect on nutritional status and body composition cardiovascular risk factors and knowledge of other adverse effect is still largely unknown.

    So while short term weight loss goals maybe achieved long term health may not be, as it restricts beans, lentils, fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, milk - food providing some very valuable nutrients for long term health

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