Thursday, November 30, 2023
You don't have to count calories and can eat fatty foods
Not a balanced diet & isn't great for long-term weight loss
Quick weight loss program for disciplined dieters
Prices for the books and food will vary
Developed by physician and cardiologist Dr. Robert Atkins in the 1970s, the Atkins Diet is an popular but controversial weight loss plan that dramatically restricts carbohydrate consumption and emphasizes increased consumption of protein, fat (including saturated fat), and leaf vegetables. While carbs are strictly measured on this plan, there is no calorie counting necessary. The idea behind Atkins is that when you drastically reduce carb-rich foods in your diet, your body enters a metabolic state of "ketosis" where it will start to burn fat for energy instead of carbs (in the form of glucose).
As background, when carbs enter your body, they quickly break down into glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream. To regulate blood sugar levels, your pancreas secretes insulin to help your cells absorb the excess sugar. Since your body can only absorbs a certain amount of the sugar, anything that is left over gets turned into fat. In addition to weight gain, extreme variations in blood sugar levels make your body crave more sugar (food) and, over time, can also potentially lead to diabetes.
The Atkins plan includes four main phases, during which the goal is to find your Atkins Carbyhydrate Equilibrium (ACE), or the daily amount of carbs you can consume without gaining or losing weight. Once reached, the plan works to ensure that you can maintain these healthy lifestyle improvements for life. You can get more details on Atkins at Atkins.com. You can purchase books on Amazon and food products at www.buyatkins.com. Food prices vary, but shakes are about $7 per 5-pack and bars are between $7-$9 per 5-pack. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution costs about $8 on Amazon.
Product Report Card Grade
We give the Atkins Diet a B+ because it is a great plan for short-term weight loss. If you are very disciplined, you can quickly lose pounds without having to count calories or cut out your favorite high fat foods. We had to deduct points however because it isn’t a great plan for long-term weight loss and because it doesn’t promote balanced eating habits. Additionally, if you fall off the Atkins wagon, you will probably end up gaining back all of the weight that you lost.
No calorie counting and you can eat foods that traditionally "off limits" on a diet (i.e. meat, eggs, cheese, butter, etc.); lots of reading material and recipes available; convenience of pre-packaged Atkins food (snack bars, breakfast bars, shakes, and candy)
Can customize diet plan to fit almost any person and lifestyle (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.); teaching nutrition and portion-control from the beginning can make the plan easier to maintain in the long-term; allows for occasional splurges; in-person and online support available; offers pre-made snacks and meals so you can stick to the plan even if you are pressed for time; offers exercise incentives
Convenience of prepackaged, microwavable meals that control portions; lots of support for members with the Jenny consultants, a 24/7 support telephone line and multiple online tools; tailored diet plans; winner of Consumer Reports taste test for prepackaged diet meals
Allows consumption of saturated fat; some studies suggest that the diet could contribute to osteoporosis, high cholesterol, kidney stones or gout due to the increased consumption of protein; side effects of ketosis can include: nausea, headache, mental fatigue and bad breath; side effects of Induction phase include: headaches, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, leg cramps and constipation; doesn't offer full meal plan packages like the Zone; doesn't emphasize that exercise is vital for weight loss; leaving ketosis stage can cause you to regain weight
Flexibility of plan may not work for the undisciplined; counting points can be tedious; have to maintain membership which can be costly
Most of the complaints are about how expensive the plan is; relies heavily on prepackaged meals, so its difficult to go out for dinner; Jenny consultants are not dieticians/nutritionists by profession; not appropriate for vegans or people with food allergies (gluten, peanuts, etc.)
Food prices vary. You can purchase Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution for about $5 (est.)
Food and membership costs vary. Currently, it is $30 to sign up, $19/month for online access and $43/month for unlimited meetings.
Food and membership costs vary. It can range between $0-$25 to sign up, $25-$38 in monthly membership fees and about $400 in monthly food costs.
Low-Calorie, Low-Fat, Balanced
Weight Loss and General Health
The idea behind the Atkins Diet is that when you drastically reduce carb-rich foods from your diet, your body enters a metabolic state of "ketosis" where it will start to burn fat for energy instead of carbs (in the form of glucose).
The idea behind the Weight Watchers Program is that you'll eat less and won't feel as hungry if you make healthier food choices that fill you up for longer.
The idea behind the Jenny Craig program is that you can lose weight and maintain that weight loss when you combine balanced nutrition and portion control with an improved attitude toward food and exercise.
How It Works
Developed by physician and cardiologist Dr. Robert Atkins, the Atkins Diet dramatically restricts the consumption of carbohydrates, while emphasizing an increased consumption of protein, fat (including saturated fat) and leafy vegetables. The Atkins plan includes 4 main phases, during which time the goal is to find your Atkins Carbyhydrate Equilibrium (ACE). Your ACE is the daily amount of carbs you can consume without gaining or losing weight. The 1st phase lasts 2 weeks and is the most restrictive with a carb intake limited to 20 net grams per day. It is designed to switch your body to a metabolic state of "ketosis" and kick start your weight loss. The 2nd phase lasts until you are 5 - 10 pounds from your goal weight. During this phase, you will gradually increase your daily net carb intake to determine how many net carbs you can consume and still maintain a healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. In the 3rd phase, you will determine your ACE, and, in the 4th phase, you will learn how use the good habits you've acquired in the previous phases to make permanent lifestyle changes.
Weight Watchers uses a PointsPlus system to help dieters measure daily food intake and to encourage them to make healthier choices. The PointsPlus system assigns a point value to different foods, which is calculated by its protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber and calorie content, as well as by how difficult it is for the body to work it off. Each dieter is given a unique PointsPlus target according to their gender, height, weight and weight loss goals. You can basically eat whatever you want on the Weight Watchers program, as long as you stay within your daily PointsPlus target, but you are encouraged to eat more "Power Foods," which are considered the healthiest and most filling. "Power Foods" include whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy and (unlimited quantities of) fresh fruit and non-starchy veggies.
The Jenny Craig program assigns each dieter a personal Jenny consultant who will customize their weight loss plan and meet with them during weekly one-on-one sessions to help guide them through the program's 3 stages - food, body and mind. To educate you on nutrition and portion control, the program initially provides frozen or shelf-stable prepackaged meals that are high in fiber and low in fat/cholesterol. You will supplement these meals with 2-3 servings of fresh fruits, vegetables, or non-fat dairy products bought at a local grocery store. Halfway from your goal weight, you will slowly transition to cooking your own meals (using Jenny recipes) until you have reached your goal weight and are only cooking your own food. Meanwhile, your Jenny consultant will help devise a workout program based on your current activity level with the ultimate goal eventually being 60 minutes of advanced physical activity a day (Pilates, running or weight training). Your Jenny consultant will also help you better understand how your existing relationship with food, life experiences and social environment have impacted your health and weight, and how you can build the necessary skills to change your previous mind-set and maintain the good habits that you have acquired during the program.
The Atkins Diet doesn't require calorie counting, but some dieters felt that the calorie intake was more restrictive than they had anticipated.
Since Weight Watchers uses the PointsPlus system, there isn't a focus on calories, but, no matter what, you will be getting at least 1200 calories a day.
Calorie intake can range from 1,200 - 2,300 calories per day depending on the plan you come up with your Jenny consultant, which will be based on your age, height, current weight, gender, your activity level, etc.
The Atkins Diet sells how-to books with numerous recipes to follow. They also offer free access to a smart phone app and online support tools (i.e. meal planners, progress tracking tools, etc.) to make it even easier to follow the program.
You can sign up to attend group meetings at your local Weight Watchers branch or you can just sign up for the online program. To keep track of the points you are consuming, Weight Watchers also offers a pocket guide, pocket calculator, an online database of 40,000 foods and a mobile app with the database for additional convenience. Weight Watchers also offers recipes that show the PointsPlus value or, if you are making your own dish, you can use the company's online tools to calculate points ingredient by ingredient.
You can participate in the program by attending weekly sessions at a local Jenny Craig center or you can also participate from the comfort of your own home. Either way, you will have access to a Jenny consultant for one-on-one weekly meetings and to Jenny's 24/7 telephone line to get information or support whenever you need it. The program also offers online support, including peer-support discussion groups and progress tracking tools.
While exercise is encouraged on the Atkins Diet, it is not required.
Physical activity is encouraged, and Weight Watchers assigns different activities a PointsPlus value in order to incentivize dieters. Whether it is an hour of running, dancing or doing laundry, you'll receive extra food points when you exercise to allow for the occasional splurge.
30 - 60 minutes of physical activity is encouraged, and your Jenny consultant will help you determine your fitness goals/routine. Usually, Jenny consultants will try to incorporate exercise into your daily life (ex. walking, taking the stairs, doing laundry, etc.), but they may suggest that already active dieters add more rigorous exercise (ex. Pilates, weight training, etc.).
Examples of available books include: Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, Atkins for Life: The Complete Controlled Carb Program for Permanent Weight Loss and Good Health, New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great, Atkins for Life Low-Carb Cookbook: More than 250 Recipes for Every Occasion
Examples of available books include: Weight Watchers All-Time Favorites: Over 200 Best-Ever Recipes from the Weight Watchers Test Kitchens, Weight Watchers In 20 Minutes, Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook.
Examples of available books include: Jenny Craig No Diet Required, The Jenny Craig Cookbook: Cutting Through the Fat, Simple Pleasures: Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul.
ProductReportCard Editors' In-Depth Review
Pros And Cons
- There’s no calorie counting and you can eat foods that traditionally “off limits” on a diet, such as meat, eggs, cheese, butter, etc
- Lots of reading material and recipes available
- Convenience of pre-packaged Atkins food (snack bars, breakfast bars, shakes, and candy).
- High protein meals keep you fuller, longer and with less of an urge to snack
- Some studies suggest that the diet could contribute to osteoporosis, high cholesterol, kidney stones or gout due to the increased consumption of protein
- Side effects of ketosis can include: nausea, headache, mental fatigue and bad breath
- Side effects of Induction phase include: headaches, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, leg cramps and constipation.
- Doesn’t offer full meal plan packages like the Zone
- Doesn’t emphasize that exercise is vital for weight loss
- A lot of saturated fat allowed in diet
- Leaving ketosis stage can cause you to regain weight
As with all weight-loss diets, you should check with your doctor or health care provider before starting on Atkins, especially if you have any health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease. The popularity of this diet peaked in 2003-2004, but it remains a good plan for disciplined dieters looking to lose weight quickly. That said, the diet doesn’t get great online reviews in the long-term. In a recent US News poll, Atkins ranked 22nd in the "Best Diets Overall" category and only about 16% of dieters said Atkins worked for them. Atkins doesn’t seem to promote a well-balanced diet, and, in my opinion, doesn’t put enough emphasis on the need for physical activity. Both are essential to maintaining a healthy weight and body composition. Furthermore, if you stop the diet altogether, your body will exit ketosis and you are likely to regain all the weight you lost (especially if you don’t exercise). Lastly, according to Mayo Clinic, there have been no major studies done to see whether Atkins is better then other popular diets in reducing or even reversing risks factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Customer Responses, Reviews, or Complaints
Review submitted: 2015-01-20
I have been on the Atkins program for two weeks& lost 6 of the 10 "holiday" pounds I gained in December. It"s wonderful to not have to use a digital scale to weigh portion sizes.I've both cooked & bought the meal bars, frozen meals & candies, which are delicious and stop hunger. I can't believe I can eat these and still lose weight! To improve, it would be helpful to have Atkins products to use to prepare family meals instead of just single-sized portions. Plus would like nonchocolate candies, such as jellybeans.
Punta Gorda, FL
Review submitted: 2014-02-13
With Atkins what I like the best is you don't have to count calories or buy specific foods though they do have shakes, bars and frozen meals if you choose to. The things that I like the least are that with their products they are a little bit more expensive and I wish they had more choices of products. I think it would be great if they had more cake and pie options and maybe their own tortilla and bread lines. They have so much more they could offer in the way of products and still profit from them. They could also even offer recipe books.
Weight Loss and Dieting Regimes
Review submitted: 2014-01-11
I've gained and lost a lot of weight over the past 55 years. (I'm almost 70 years old. My pet diet was always the Atkins Diet even before Atkins was popular. Followed correctly one can lose 10 pounds in ten days without jeopardizing health. It's not an easy diet and it may be boring but it's quick, easy and efficient when wanting to lose a few pounds quickly.
Another diet I always loved was Fit For Life. A great way to treat yourself to a healthy lifestyle eating plan. After being diagnosed with a serious health issue when I was 40 this diet was instrumental in getting me back to a healthy condition and teaching me a great deal about nutrition in the bargain.
The South Beach and Zone Diet are also healthy, effective ways to control your weight.
Atkins Diet Works!
Review submitted: 2013-11-08
I purchased the Dr. Atkins New Diet as a last resort to lose 25 lbs. of "premenopausal" weight gained. I started the diet in August 2012 and by March 2013 I had shed all 25 lbs. This diet is amazing and so easy to follow. I never felt hungry or, in fact, never even felt like I was on a diet. After one week on the diet I had renewed energy, slept better and felt all around healthier. An added benefit was that my cholesterol level stabilized and I was also able to reduce my high blood pressure medication. It has been nine months since I finished the last phase and the weight has stayed off. One suggestion to anyone who does follow this diet is to use the Atkins website along with the book. It not only provides a good tool for planning meals and great recipes but also has money saving coupons for Atkins products.
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