Book Review: The Atkins Diet

I have two highly recommended versions of Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution on my bookshelf. You can pick these up at most thrift stores (and Amazon) for a pittance and they are worth reading and referring back to for insight and inspiration. Dr. Atkins popularized the low-carb diet in the 1970s and versions of his original diet are being marketed as the ketogenic diet today.

Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution is the book that started me on my path to weight-loss, sixteen years of weight-maintenance, and greatly improved health. It lays out a simple plan that is easy to follow and almost guarantees success. The book has recipes and several ideas for the metabolically resistant to jump start weight-loss. The initial phase of Atkins is induction, with a limit of 20 grams of carbohydrates and as much meat and fat as you want for two weeks. You can also have 3-4 ounces of cheese, 2-3 TBS of cream, a few olives, 1 ounce of sour cream, 1/2 a small avocado.  Note that he does caution you to “eat the amount that makes you feel satisfied, but not stuffed.” After two weeks you can stay on induction or start adding back carbs in 5 gram increments following his “carb ladder” until you reach your CCL-critical carb level (when you stop losing). At that point go back down to your previous week’s carb level to start losing again.

I also keep a copy of the classic 1972 Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. This may be the greatest diet book ever written! Dr. Atkins believes in the low-carb way-of-life and he’s not afraid to lay it out for you. The 1972 version of induction is “0” carbs and one week of induction. All the meat and fat you want with two small salads (or a pickle in place of one salad!), 4 ounces of cheese, 4 tsp of cream, juice of one lemon or lime. After one week add back in carbs in 5-8 gram increments until you hit your CCL.

Almost everything you read today about ketogenic diets was addressed by Dr. Atkins in these books: electrolytes, salt, ketosticks, measuring yourself along with weighing, the pause after your initial weight-loss, thyroid, etc. is covered in these books. Some of the information is outdated, but it’s surprising how much he gets right.

There are also some great recipes in these books, especially the 1972 version. One of the 1972 favorites is “Revolution Rolls” a kind of eggy fake bread. Variations of which are all over the internet. My favorite weird recipe is “Matzoh ball soup” made from crushed pork rinds! Oy! The 1992 recipes have more Atkins products, I would skip the recipes that contain these.

Both of these books are jammed packed with stories, inspiration, and Dr. Atkins indomitable will. He wants you to get started on his diet revolution and he’s very convincing. He was up against the harshest critics of his time and he knew that his diet worked. I love his attitude and confidence that this is the best way to lose weight and get healthy. He wasn’t wrong!

Atkins gets a lot of criticism for heavily relying on products, but the 1972 book tells a different story. Yes there is some reliance on artificial sweeteners like cyclamates (not even available now in the US) but for the most part these are luxurious, delicious whole-foods recipes.

I really can’t recommend these books highly enough. Dr. Atkins is my hero and I’m only sorry that he died before I had a chance to meet him. I do think he might be a bit sad about the products being peddled under his name. But I’m sure he’d be happy to know that he was on the cutting edge when he wrote his first diet book in 1972.

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