Goal: to lose weight

Be aware: this is only the goal of this diet, not necessarily its outcome. Results vary from person to person. Consult your doctor or dietician before starting this (or any other) diet.

The Atkins diet 

The Atkins diet was invented by cardiologist Robert Atkins. It is a popular diet in which you consume few carbohydrates. In this diet you can choose between Atkins 40 and Atkins 20. The choice depends on how much you want to lose. If you want to lose less than 18 kilos, Atkins 40 is recommended by Atkins. If you want to lose more than 18 kilos, Atkins 20 is recommended.

On the homepage you can compare this diet with other diets.

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Keeping track of carbs

You don't have to buy special products or count calories with Atkins. You do need to keep track of how many carbohydrates you consume. To be precise, the net number of carbs. Net carbs are the total number of carbs minus the fibre content and the sugar alcohols (polyols), if any. See formula below.

Net carbs = [Total carbs] - [Fibre content + sugar alcohols (polyols)].

Atkins 20

Atkins 20 consists of four different phases. They are described below.

Phase 1

Phase 1 takes a minimum 2 weeks. The idea of this first phase is that you make your body burn fats instead of carbohydrates. You do this, according to Robert Atkins, by eating only 20 grams of carbs a day. You have to get these carbohydrates from vegetables (and not by eating meat). Hence, this phase is vegetarian. The phase can be skipped by vegetarians & vegans. 

Phase 2

In the second phase you will reintroduce different types of food in your diet to see how many carbohydrates you can eat while losing weight.

Phase 3

Phase 3 starts when you still need to lose about 5 kg to reach your target weight. In this phase you learn what you can eat to keep your weight in balance.

Phase 4

In the last phase you will (try to) maintain a weight balance. The idea is that you will stay in this phase for the rest of your life to (try to) prevent yourself from regaining the lost kilos again.

Atkins 40

When following Atkins 40, you are allowed a maximum of 40 gram carbs a day, until you are about 5 kilos away from your target weight. At that point you will add 10 grams of carbohydrates to your diet. 

The idea is that this will make you lose weight more slowly. As you get closer to your target weight, keep adding 10 grams. The aim is to reach your target weight exactly.

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Exercise is not necessarily necessary with Atkins 20 or Atkins 40, but the advice is to try to be active for at least 20 minutes a day.

Be aware

Consult your doctor or dietician before starting this (or any) diet, especially if you have diabetes or a high cholesterol level.


Robert Atkins wrote ‘Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution’. There is a cookbook available as well.

Similar diets

Atkins can be compared to other low-carb diets

This page has been checked, and warnings have been added by, Jolande, dietician. Read more here.

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  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Olive oil

Not allowed

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Chips
  • Biscuits
  • Candy
  • Flour (white)
  • Sugar


As you see fit

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With the professional help of a dietitian it should be easier to reach your goals. Please contact a dietician in your area or talk to a doctor before starting any diet.

General warnings

Please take note that most diets do not have a scientific basis.

Consult your doctor or dietician before starting a diet, especially if you have a chronic condition like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung disease or kidney disease.

Eating disorders

If you think you might have an eating disorder (like anorexia or bulimia), it is important to look for professional help. Contact your (house) doctor or find help elsewhere. Here you can find a list of several websites that can provide (online) help. These sites also provide information for people that know someone with an eating disorder.