The Atkins Diet requires followers to drastically decrease their carbohydrate intake and eat more protein and fats. While you may lose weight initially, long-term side effects of this type of diet can include serious conditions such as gout, a common symptom of which is joint pain, according to Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension 2.
About the Atkins Diet
This diet is based on the idea that when cut out carbohydrates, your body uses fat for fuel, meaning you burn more calories and therefore lose more weight quickly. As a result, the Atkins Diet is typically high in protein and low in carbs.
How It Works
Gout and Shrimp
There are four phases of the Atkins Diet 1. The first is called Induction and requires you to drastically reduce your carb intake to 20 grams a day — compared with the average daily intake of 250 grams — to encourage your body to burn fat as fuel. In the Ongoing Weight Loss and Pre-maintenances phases, you can slowly increase your carb intake, but it will still be lower than most people’s, and breads and pasta are still off-limits. In the final Lifetime Maintenance phase, you establish the diet and carb intake you should follow for life. This is around 90 grams a day and, while you can vary the types of carbs you eat, you will still only be getting around a third of the average daily carb intake.
- There are four phases of the Atkins Diet 1.
- In the Ongoing Weight Loss and Pre-maintenances phases, you can slowly increase your carb intake, but it will still be lower than most people’s, and breads and pasta are still off-limits.
Eating a high-protein, low-carb diet for a prolonged period can lead to a number of health conditions. Gout is caused by the excess uric acid crystallizing in your joints, making them swollen and painful, according to the NHS Choices website for England’s National Health Service 3.
Other Side Effects
List of Roughage Foods
Under the Atkins Diet, your body is likely to produce more ketones, which can lead to a condition called ketosis, according to weightlossresources.co.uk. Ketones are produced as your body metabolises fat. Because:
- bad breath
High-protein, low-carb diets are not recommended by the American Heart Association, The American Dietetic Association, the Surgeon General or the Food & Drug Administration. As well as joint pain, gout and ketosis, they can lead to constipation, due to the lack of fiber. In more serious cases, the high fat content can cause heart conditions and kidney problems. If you are considering this diet, check with your doctor first — especially if you are pregnant or have an underlying health condition.
- High-protein, low-carb diets are not recommended by the American Heart Association, The American Dietetic Association, the Surgeon General or the Food & Drug Administration.
- In more serious cases, the high fat content can cause heart conditions and kidney problems.
Gout and Shrimp
List of Roughage Foods
Can Too Many Carbs and Not Enough Protein Cause Joint Pain?
Why Does Bulgur Wheat Cause Bloating?
List of Foods That Cause Gout
Cottage Cheese & Fruit Diet
List of Foods High in Uric Acid
Atkins Diet and Liver Problems
How to Lose 20 Pounds of Fat in One Month Without Exercise
List of Foods Allowed for the Paleo Diet
- Weight Loss Resources: The Atkins Diet Under The Spotlight
- Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension: Fad Diets: Healthy or Hazardous?
- NHS Choices: Gout
- Patient UK: Urine Ketones - Meanings and False Positives
- Rush University Medical Center: The Skinny on Low-Carb Diets
- Kosinski C, Jornayvaz FR. Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):517. doi:10.3390/nu9050517
- Foster GD, Wyatt HR, Hill JO, et al. Weight and metabolic outcomes after 2 years on a low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diet: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(3):147-157. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-153-3-201008030-00005
- Paoli A. Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(2):2092-2107. doi:10.3390/ijerph110202092
- Mahdi GS. The Atkin's diet controversy. Ann Saudi Med. 2006;26(3):244-245. doi:10.5144/0256-4947.2006.244
- EurekAlert. When it comes to food, one size doesn't fit all: world's largest scientific nutrition research project reveals even identical twins have different responses to food. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). 2019.
- Gibson AA, Sainsbury A. Strategies to Improve Adherence to Dietary Weight Loss Interventions in Research and Real-World Settings. Behav Sci (Basel). 2017;7(3):44. doi:10.3390/bs7030044
- USDA Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020. Appendix 7. Nutritional goals for age-sex groups based on dietary reference intakes and Dietary Guidelines recommendations.
- Harvard School of Public Health. Nutrition source - Diet review: ketogenic diet for weight loss. Updated 2019.
- Dansinger ML, Gleason JA, Griffith JL, Selker HP, Schaefer EJ. Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone Diets for Weight Loss and Heart Disease Risk Reduction: A Randomized Trial. JAMA. 2005;293(1):43-53. doi:10.1001/jama.293.1.43
- Hall KD, Bemis T, Brychta R, et al. Calorie for Calorie, Dietary Fat Restriction Results in More Body Fat Loss than Carbohydrate Restriction in People with Obesity. Cell Metab. 2015;22(3):427-436. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.07.021
Jessica began her writing career in 1995 and is Senior Editor at a London communications agency, where she writes and edits corporate publications covering health, I.T., banking and finance. Jessica has also written for consumer magazines including "Cosmopolitan" and travel, home/lifestyle and bridal titles. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and journalism from the University of Queensland.