Atkins vs Keto

I’m guessing most have heard of the Atkins’ Diet. It was first introduced by Robert C. Atkins, M.D. back in 1972 with the publication of his book, Diet Revolution. He was a cardiologist who was looking for ways to curb the rise of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes. (This was back in 1972, I can’t imagine what he’d think now. Unfortunately he passed away in February 2003.) His approach was to significantly lower carbohydrates and replace them with protein and some fat. By many it was labeled a fad diet (still is according to Wikipedia, and more).

The diet stated that you should start with something called the induction phase for at least the first two weeks. This wasn’t required but would be a good way to “jump-start” your weight loss. During this time you are to limit your net carbohydrate intake (remove any fiber from your carb count) to under 20 grams a day. They shared that you should have liberal amounts of meats, fish, poultry, and eggs, and can include “healthy fats”. (For more on the categorization of fats, check out #PUREresults for the latest findings.) They also state that you can have fatty condiments (like mayo, sour cream, butter, etc.) in unlimited quantities. And lastly they state that you can expect weight loss in the induction phase to be significant. Sounds great, right? (SPOILER: The induction phase is successful in weight loss because it puts the person into a state called nutritional ketosis…more on that shortly.)

However, the Atkins’ diet transitions as time goes on through three other phases, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance goal, and lifetime maintenance. The last of which could have you consuming up to 120 carbs a day.

There are a few issues that I think the Atkins’ diet has,

  1. It doesn’t look closely enough at the effect of a high protein diet on the body’s insulin production. If sugar, raises your blood sugar and insulin levels 100%, then protein raises it 46%. Fat, on the other hand, barely raises blood sugar and insulin at all. Also, once you’ve eaten more protein than your body needs to maintain its muscles, it converts the extra protein to glucose (sugar). So you have sugar coming in through the back and knocking you out of nutritional ketosis (where the most body fat loss is seen.)
  2. Increasing your carb intake over time is like expecting that you can roll a wheel downhill and not let it get away from you. I’m sure we could find hundreds of “Fail” videos on-line of people thinking that they could do something like this and, well, Fail! (It does make for great entertainment though!)
  3. It doesn’t focus enough on the benefits of eating fat and how much more satiated (less hungry) you are when doing so. I commonly have a hard time consuming up to 2000 calories a day when I’m consuming a high fat diet. This even though fat grams have 9 calories compared to 4 for protein and carbs.

So, as you may have guessed, a Keto diet is very much like the induction phase that the Atkins’ diet espouses. Although it generally focuses on eating fats over proteins and most can eat up to about 40 – 50 net carbs a day before being kicked out of nutritional ketosis. It’s funny that even the Atkins’ Diet tells you to basically go keto for a few weeks to kick-start your weight loss. If this is such a good start, why would you want to switch back to a diet that slowly increases your carb intake until you quit and go full bore back into your old eating habits? Maybe that’s why they still refer to Atkins as a fad diet?…

Please share, like and comment below. I’d love to hear about your experiences with Atkins or Keto whether they be good or bad. Have a good one!

For more info on the Keto diet/lifestyle check out these other posts:

What is Keto?

Dealing with the Keto Flu

My Keto Manifesto

A quick note: I am in no way trying to disparage Dr. Atkins or any of his contributions to the world’s general well-being. I am simply trying to share learnings that include some of the latest news and techniques for battling Type 2 diabetes and its counterparts.


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