Last Updated on 4 August 2022 by Ray Plumlee

Dr. Robert C. Atkins founder of the Atkins diet philosophy.
Dr. Robert C. Atkins founder of the Atkins diet philosophy.

Anyone who has ever thought of dieting has certainly heard of the Atkins Plan. But how many have actually investigated what this is. Put simply, it is a diet plan high in protein and fat, and low in starches and sugar. You could think of it, almost, as eating like a caveman. Our ancestors didn’t sit around the cave scarfing down pasta and potato chips, after all. Meat was a staple of their diet, supplemented by veggies.

Just as in millennia past, the Atkins Plan recommends a diet rich in fats and proteins, but low in carbohydrates and sugar. Beef, poultry, seafood, eggs, butter, oils, and cheese are staples of the plan, but breads, pasta, potatoes, chips, cookies, and candy are verboten. This may sound easier than it actually is. In Phase 1 of the Atkins Plan, you must limit your intake of carbs to 20 grams per day. This may sound easy, until you check just how many carbs are in the items you regularly consume. But, during this initial phase, it is important to keep to this level of consumption in order to convert your body into a state of ketosis. This means that your body will now burn fat for energy instead of carbs. Your body should enter this sate within a matter of days. The good news is that you will likely feel less hungry at this time, and your weight should steadily drop at a relatively quick rate. You will be taking in your carbs in vegetable form, and slowly add whole grains and legumes such as beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts.

In Phase 2 of the Atkins Plan, you may begin to add foods back into your diet, making educated judgements about just how many carbs you can consume on a daily basis and still continue to lose weight. Be honest with yourself. Don’t convince yourself that your are satisfied with your weight loss program when you are not. Don’t sacrifice the progress you have made so far   for the comfort of that slice of cake or.  bowl of spaghetti.

Once you get within ten pounds of your weight loss goal, you can enter Phase 3 of the plan. By this time you should be familiar with just how many carbs your body can process, and just how much derivation you can tolerate, and still manage to lose weight. People often say that the last few pounds are the hardest, but never lose sight of your goal, which is so easily within reach.

Phase 4 is the maintenance part. This is the diet you will live with for the rest of your life. Embrace it with optimism – you have been through all the hard parts, now you can coast! But, always keep i mind that backsliding can cause a return of the poundage you have worked so hard to lose.

The Atkins Diet Plan offers no strict guidelines on the quantity of meats and other proteins you may consume, but does suggest limits on fats or butter. A new modification of the Plan, known as the Atkins 40 doubles the initial amount of carbs you are allowed during Phase 1. The rules of this new program are generally more relaxed than the previous version, and it does not specifically exclude any food. You may find this a better choice.

The Atkins Diet is a moderately easy plan to follow, and is adjustable to many different dietary restrictions. The plan does not require the consumption of meat in and of itself, so it is fully compatible with a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, since these participants will be receiving their daily protein requirements solely from non-meat sources, they must skip the first phase of the plan, which limits the intake of carbs too severely. Gluten free diets are easily accommodated, since gluten almost exclusively comes from carbs, and there is certainly no requirement to add salt for those on a salt-restricted diet. Simply be sure to check for the sodium content on a canned or packaged food items you may incorporate into your menu.

The Atkins 20 plan as originally described, limits the kinds of foods you may eat more severely than the modified Atkins 40 plan, so if you are the kind of eater who enjoys a wider variety of foods, you may prefer the newer version. However, the Atkins 20 plan will allow you to add back certain items as you progress toward your goal – just be careful not to backslide into old, unhealthy habits. And be aware that while this diet has been proven successful, there are no long term studies indicating the effects of a high fat and protein diet on life-long health.

You need not join any program, or club, or pay a fee to follow the Atkins Plan. Several books are available, and you can easily educate yourself. In addition, the Atkins website offers support and chat rooms where you can communicate with others who are sharing your journey. You can also find recipes, menus, and various apps to make that journey easier. Atkins products such as ready made meals and snacks are widely available at your local supermarket, and eating at restaurants is not a problem is you acquaint yourself with the ingredients of the items on the menu. Simply ask your server if you have any questions.

A simple Phase 1 daily menu may include a cheddar cheese omelet with avocado and salsa for breakfast, a warm and satisfying lunch of bacon, cheddar cheese soup, and a main meal of balsamic pork loin with roasted rosemary cauliflower. You can munch away on approved snacks such as avocado salsa, caprese salad, chipotle chicken bites with blue cheese dressing, or a creamy crab dip. The choices are many and varied, and even more so as you progress from the initial phase of the plan to its maintenance phase. But, like any diet plan, it only works well in conjunction  with a serious commitment to your own health. Keep your portions small and balanced, and maintain a healthy exercise program to achieve a lifetime of benefits.

Life Extension Subscription

5 1 vote
Article Rating

I’m Nick Wilkinson. I writer and radio personality who lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

With over 14 years of experience in the Behavioral Health Field, I’ve been working in close contact with kids from all walks of life.

Specializing in teenagers and young adults, I’ve been a career long supporter of “verbal de-escalation” and non-violent crisis intervention. I believe that what you say, and how you say it, are the keys to successful communication. I currently write about men's health topics, parenting and child abuse topics, and other social issues. You can visit my blog at

Tagged on: Atkins    Atkins 20 plan    Atkins 40 plan    carbohydrates    caveman    Dr. Robert C. Atkins    fat    ketosis    maintenance phase    Phase 1    Phase 2    Phase 3    Phase 4    protein    starches    sugar
Notify of

WordPress Anti-Spam by WP-SpamShield

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cheryl Ryan

I hated the diet when it was originally considered unhealthy and demonized by the mainstream health authorities mostly due to its high saturated fat content. This article just changed my mindset about everything. Thank you Nick

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
%d bloggers like this: