Our Reviewer Says ...
"If you love meat, you'll enjoy the diet, as long as you can stay interested in it."
At a Glance
Eat meat, lose weight? That's the basic principle behind the Atkins Diet. On it, you won't be counting calories: Instead, the focus is on consuming fewer grams of carbohydrates. By restricting carbs, the body not only ends up with fewer leftover calories after each meal (calories which are typically converted into stored body fat), but it also has no choice but to burn additional stored body fat for energy.
During the 14-day induction phase, Atkins followers are instructed to eat either three large meals or four to five smaller meals throughout the day. Although the plan calls for plenty of protein and fats, it only allows for 20 grams of carbohydrates each day (15 grams must come from low-carb vegetables). The second Ongoing Weight Loss or OWL phase allows an added five grams of carbs every week as long as you keep losing 1 to 3 pounds a week. This phase continues until you're within 5 to 10 pounds of your ideal weight. The third Pre-Maintenance phase lets you add ten grams of carbs each week until you're losing about a pound a week. This phase continues until you reach your target weight. The fourth Lifetime Maintenance phase instructs dieters to continue eating the final amount of carbohydrates they reached in phase three. If they find themselves five pounds above their target weight, dieters are told to return to the induction phase.
Recently, the original Atkins Diet was tweaked into the Atkins Advantage. On this plan, the low-carb approach is basically the same, although the diet itself has been repackaged into a stricter, 12-week program that slowly reintroduces carbohydrates back into a dieter's life, along with guidance on how to exercise and gain more control over their eating habits.
- Cost: Average.
- Meals Provided: None. However, they do offer a variety of recipes. They also have their own line of supplements, nutritional bars, snacks and shakes.
- Diet Duration: If you follow the original Atkins program, Phase One is two weeks. Phase Two lasts until you're within 5 to 10 pounds of your target weight. Phase Three lasts until you reach your target weight. Phase Four is meant to be a lifetime commitment. The Atkins Advantage is also broken up into four phases, but they have simplified the program into a 12-week plan that's easier to follow.
- Fitness Requirements: The old plan never gave a specific exercise plan, but encouraged exercising regularly. However, the new plan requires dieters to follow a 12-week fitness plan.
- Time Commitment: Minimal. Minimal to average. Counting carbs is no more demanding than counting calories, but dieters following the Atkins Advantage program need to devote more time for regular exercise.
- Eating Out: Depends on where you go. You may have to ask your waiter a few questions to be absolutely certain about the carb content of your foods. But some restaurants offer specific low-carb items.
- Alcohol: It's forbidden during Phase One, but is allowed during the later phases.
- Vegetarian-Friendly: Not at all. Because the diet is built around eating plenty of protein, meat in some form is almost always on the menu.
- Strict/Flexible Eating Plan: Very strict at the start, although it allows for more freedom as the plan goes along.