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What Are the Atkins Diet Pros and Cons?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Feb 08, 2024
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Atkins diet pros and cons include its carbohydrate and fat intake, mainly that its low carbohydrate content is a pro and its high saturated fat content is a con. The large portion sizes allowed on the diet can be seen as a pro in that dieters are unlikely to feel hungry, but a con is that an excess of proteins is likely to be consumed. Fast initial weight loss is seen as a pro but a lack of fiber is seem as a con.

A diet that is low in carbohydrates such as the Atkins plan typically reduces many previous sources of fat and calories in an overweight person's diet, so weight loss is typically experienced right from the beginning. Yet, along with this advantage in Atkins diet pros and cons, often comes the disadvantage that only "water weight" is lost, so it may not end up staying off. On the pro side, diabetics may be able to achieve better sugar control as insulin regulation is easier in the body on a low carbohydrate diet. On the con side, diabetics and others who are prone to constipation may be even worse since eating enough fiber is often difficult for many people on the Atkins diet. As protein sources such as meat aren't limited, dieters may choose a second helping of a protein-packed food rather than include appropriate amounts of fiber-rich vegetables as part of their meal.

As carbohydrates are to be avoided as much as possible on the Atkins plan, whole grain sources of fiber are also not featured. To substitute for the lack of grains, more protein foods such as meats and cheeses are typically consumed by Atkins dieters since the portions aren't limited. The high amount of protein foods from animal sources usually means an abundance of saturated fat which is linked to poor heart health and may also affect the state of the kidneys. On the other hand, since carbohydrates are discouraged, Atkins dieters aren't consuming a large amount of calories and fats from "empty" or "junk" foods such as French fries and cookies. Other Atkins diet pros and cons concern the issue of nutrients.

If Atkins dieters eat large protein servings and smaller amounts of vegetables as well as very limited whole grain foods, a shortage of essential nutrients is likely. Many doctors and nutritionists advise that taking multi-vitamins isn't a good substitute from getting nutrition from food sources. Atkins diet pros and cons often include more than sufficient protein, iron and calcium, yet an insufficient amount of many other vitamins and minerals needed for good health.

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