The Atkins Diet Revolution has undergone a radical change over the post 40 years. Read about whether the “new Atkins” approach to induction is as effective as the original induction phase developed by the good Doctor himself back in the ’60s.
The Atkins Diet is immediately thought of as the original low carb diet that all other low carb diet variants are based on. And more recently, the Atkins company has been making a comeback, offering a wide range of low carb bars, low carb shakes, and now even low carb pasta to help people add some sweets and starches back into their low carb lifestyle without breaking their diet. But the fact is, the new Atkins Diet is quite different from Dr. Atkins’ original Diet Revolution — especially in the “induction” phase.
Years ago, when I first decided to investigate low carb diets, I picked up Atkins’ original Diet Revolution book in paperback. Not knowing that he had in fact published a new addition of his diet, I digested his book carefully, committing to memory the science, rationale, and philosophy behind Dr. Atkins’ proven methods for helping people lose weight without being hungry.
Recently, however, I happened across some of the new literature that Atkins’ brand and company has published about “The New Atkins” Diet. I was incredibly surprised to see how the diet has changed from Dr. Atkin’s original low carb diet plan from the late 1960s! The following article acts as a guide for low carb dieters to understand the difference between the new Atkins versus the old Atkins Diet Revolution in the induction phase.
The Atkins Induction Phase: What You Cannot Eat
First, let’s start with what is the same between the new and old Atkins diets. The same obvious list of high-carb foods are off the menu, both for the induction phase and beyond: bread, pasta, rice, fruits (except for olives, avocados, and some tomatoes), fruit juice (except for lemon or lime juice), and all things sugar-laden. Beans and legumes are also off the list.
Both the old and new Atkins also say no to alcohol in the induction phase, and a constant avoidance of processed foods, flours, and soda.
Net Carbs on the Old & New Diets
The most alarming difference between Atkins’ Diet Revolution and the New Atkins Diet is the amount of net carbs permitted during the phase one induction process. With Dr. Atkins’ original diet plan, low carb dieters cut their carb intake dramatically, eating less than 5 grams of carbs today in the induction phase. With today’s New Atkins Diet, inductees are allowed up to 22 grams of net carbs a day.
Considering that the average American consumes at least 40 grams of carbs a meal — and easily over 150 grams of carbs a day — even 22 grams is a dramatic shift from what most people are used to. And it isn’t as though the New Atkins Diet adds these extra carbs alla starches or sweets — all of the extra carbs come from salads and vegetables. In this way, these added carbs a “good carbs.”
But what would the late Dr. Atkins say?
After all, his diet called for a total detox off of carbs. The idea behind this was to throw the body into ketosis. You’ll note, however, that in none of the new Atkins literature will you find mention of ketosis. Most likely this is because of the dis-information that the health community has propagated regarding ketosis, likening it to the diabetic condition known as ketoacidosis. Clearly, the Atkins company is avoinding the k-word. In addition, cutting carbs abruptly down to below 5 grams a day can sake some getting used to, and sometimes dieters feel a bit sluggish while their bodies realign metabolically.
The biggest difference, then, between these two iterations of the Atkin Diet are how much weight you will lose in the induction phase. Chances are, a 20+ gram net carb daily diet will not get most people into ketosis — and even the lucky ones who do will only experience it very lightly. This means that, after the diuretic and laxative benefits of the induction phase are over — about 2 or 3 days into the diet — weight loss will be steady , but slower than that of the weight loss on the Diet Revolution.
In a sense, Dr. Atkins wouldn’t really mind a slower weight loss, since his diet was never supposed to be about losing weight fast. Instead, it was about losing weight without being hungry. However, it remains to be seen if a low carb dieter is really going to be less hungry on a 20 gram net carb induction versus a 5 gram net carb induction, since eating more carbohydrates contribute to funky blood sugar, which in turn stimulates hunger.
This is why the purist Diet Revolution still has traction among low carb dieters.
The New Atkins Diet: No More Induction?
One of the most surprisingly different aspects of the New Atkins Diet is the fact that the induction phase is no longer mandatory for low carb dieters. The Diet Revolution allowed for a very flexible, customizable progression of phases, with the exception of phase one; Dr. Atkins required all dieters to do phase one, and he encouraged lifetime low carb dieters to re-use the induction phase if they strayed from their maintenance diet and needed to shed a few pounds.
The New Atkins instead allows low carb dieters to enter the phases depending on how much weight they are looking to lose. If you need to lose more than 30 pounds, then the induction phase is compulsory. If you only need to lose 15 or fewer pounds, you can enter as phases two or three, respectively.
Again, this change in policy regarding the induction phase seems to be centered around the avoidance of ketosis and hard-core carb cutting. It can argues that, in many ways, Dr. Atkins’ “war on carbs” has been lost in the public eye, and so the Atkins brand has had to soften its approach to match that of the South Beach Diet. Regardless of what Dr. Atkins said about fat, cholesterol, and the safeness of ketosis, the medical community has won the day, meaning that low carb diets need to tread carefully on these health topics.
Which Version Of Atkins Is Right For You?
The best approach for answering this very personalized question is to consult with a health professional who is on board with the general concept that less carbs are better for you. That kind of medical professional isn’t always easy to find, but they are out there.
The most important consideration should be which iteration of the low carb Atkins diet allows you to lose weight steadily without being hungry. It is hunger more than anything else that makes diets fail. This is why low calorie dieting is difficult for many people — they spend the whole day craving foods. The brilliance of the Atkins diet still remains the same: it allows you to lose weight without starving yourself.
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Michael Nace is a low carb blogger for Linda’s Diet Delites. He is not a Doctor, and his article does not represent the view and opinions of Linda’s Diet Delites, nor are his articles meant to be construed as medical advice.