Atkins Diet Disadvantages

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There are many critics of the Atkins diet, stating that this diet has too much of an emphasis on meat and saturated fats, which are known to be unhealthy for the heart. The main disadvantages of this diet are:

  • Ketosis produces toxic by-products known as ketones
  • Ketosis - dangerous for people certain health conditions
  • Using fat for energy instead of carbohydrates may not be healthy
  • Fatigue - especially in the first two phases
  • Bad breath and headache - especially in the first two phases
  • Very high in saturated fat, which is not heart healthy
  • May impair kidney function in susceptible individuals
  • Very difficult to continue on the maintenance regime for life
  • Constipation due to lack of necessary fibre for bowel health
  • Lacking in many nutrients, especially in the first 2 stages
  • Weight lost initially is mainly due to water / fluid loss
  • Potential for health risks to people on this diet long term
  • The diet is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women
People with impaired kidney function or any other health condition should consult their doctor before trying this or any other diet


  1. The Cleveland Clinic. The Lowdown on Low Carbs, 10 January 2004. Accessed on 10 January 2008. The Cleveland Clinic's review of the Atkins diet is to suggest that it does not contain enough nutrients and may be difficult to sustain long term, which encourages yo-yo dieting. The Cleveland Clinic is one of the major hospitals in the USA and is well-respected for their health advice and research
  2. Yancy WS  Jr, Olsen MK, Guyton JR, Bakst RP, Westman EC. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 2004; 140: 769-777
  3. Chen TY, Smith W, Rosenstock JL, Lessnau KD. A life-threatening complication of Atkins diet. Lancet 2006; 367: 958
  4. White AM, Johnston CS, Swan PD, Tjonn SL, Sears B. Blood ketones are directly related to fatigue and perceived effort during exercise in overweight adults adhering to low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss: a pilot study. Department of Nutrition, Arizona State University, Mesa 85212, USA. Journal of the Dietetic Association, October 2007. Volume 107, Issue 10, Pages 1792-1796. Accessed on 10 January 2008
  5. Cunningham W, Hyson D. The skinny on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets. Prev Cardiol. 2006 Summer;9(3):166-71; quiz 172-3. Accessed on 10 January 2008
  6. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Report: Analysis of Health Problems Associated with High-Protein, High-Fat, Carbohydrate-Restricted Diets Reported via an Online Registry, 25 May 2004. Accessed on 10 January 2008. The author of the PCRM report notes that while low carbohydrate diets do show "modest short-term weight loss", there have been no studies on the long term health effects of these diets. The report goes on to discuss the negative health impacts of high fat (especially high saturated fat) diets
  7. Astrup A, Meinert Larsen T, Harper A. Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets: hoax or an effective tool for weight loss? The Lancet, 2004; 364:897-899. Accessed on 10 January 2008
  8. Adam-Perrot A, Clifton P, Brouns F. Low-carbohydrate diets: nutritional and physiological aspects. Obes Rev. 2006 Feb;7(1):49-58



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