Join our Newsletter for Coupon Codes, Sales and Specials

FAQ from the Atkins Center

Frequently Asked Questions from the Atkins Center         

  1. Why am I unable to get into ketosis even with zero carbohydrates? What should I do?

ANSWER: You are either metabolically resistant to weight loss or else you don't know all sources of the carbohydrates you may be eating. If you are losing weight and doing well, there is no need to do anything differently. If you are not doing well losing weight, you may need additional help by adding the Dieters' Advantage (2 pills, three times daily), or FMF#24 (2 pills, three times daily) or L-Carnitine. To stimulate ketosis, the best diet is high in fat (cream cheese, macademias, deviled eggs, etc.), moderate amounts of protein and zero carbohydrates (see chapter on the Kekwick diet in the book). You may also need to increase exercise from three times per week, to four or five times per week. If all else fails, you need to see an M.D. trained in the Atkins system.

  2. What is the reason I'm stuck on the diet and not losing?

ANSWER: There are many factors that influence an individual's ability to lose weight. These may include a) too many carbohydrates having been added to the Ongoing Weight Loss level of the diet (O.W.L), b) low body temperatures which indicate a possible sluggish thyroid and/or c) difficulty with the use of artificial sweeteners. The factors that influence your progress need to be evaluated individually until a solution to permanent success is found. Too often we give up at the first roadblock and begin the cycle of failures again. REMEMBER THAT SUCCESS IS NOT JUST MEASURED BY NUMBERS ON THE SCALE. Consider the following: are you experiencing more energy and vitality? Are your clothes fitting you better? Are you free from hunger and cravings? Are your blood tests improved? If you can answer yes to any or all of these questions, then you have found the right program and if you require further assistance, consider scheduling a telephone nutritional consultation (TNC), or come see us in person (see page on Atkins Center for details).

  3. What medical conditions should be monitored by an M.D. during the diet?

ANSWER: All medical conditions requiring prescriptions, and even some that don�t, like diet controlled diabetes mellitus, need to be monitored by a physician. This is necessary because the diet and nutritional supplements improve so many conditions that the prescriptions often become an overdose or unnecessarily strong.


4. Are there any medical conditions that can interfere with a person's ability to be on the diet?

  1. Far advanced kidney disease, gout, urate kidney stones, or unmanageable constipation or allergy to the primary foods on the diet, such as meat, cheese, etc.
  2. The absence of digestive enzymes needed to digest fat and protein make the diet difficult to handle-but this can usually be corrected.
  3. Underweight or normal weight people should not use the induction phase of the diet, but rather a modified version which we have adapted.
  4. Known previous bad reactions diosyncratic) to the diet.

  5. What medications interfere with or need adjustment during the diet?

ANSWER: Virtually all medications interfere. The most incompatible medications are:
  1. Diuretics (water pills)
  2. Psychotropic drugs, including prozac, zoloft, lithium, etc.
  3. Hormones and steroids, including estrogen (premarin), birth control pills and prednisone.
  4. Arthritic drugs, especially NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
  5. Cholesterol lowering drugs.

  6. All anti-diabetic medications, including insulin with the exception of glucophage.
  7. Tranquilizers
  8. Seizure medications.
Fortunately, doctors who work with the diet can usually use it and certain supplements to help you get off each and every one of the above or taper you to minimal doses. Please DO NOT COME OFF MEDICATIONS BY YOURSELF without medical supervision.

  6. If some of my medications can affect the diet, what can I do?

ANSWER: There are certain medical conditions that require tapering off medications ONLY under the supervision of a physician familiar with the diet and the use of nutritional supplements. However, there are some options open to you especially if your health care practitioner is willing to monitor you during the tapering process.

Blood Pressure Medications: In our practice, we can always discontinue the use of diuretics and other medications for blood pressure management by using nutrients such as the AH#3, Taurine, Asparaplus, Magnesium, L-Carnitine and CoEnzyme Q10.

Allergy Medications: During the allergy season we usually can keep our patients comfortable using our Allergy #13 Formula and Pantethine without side effects such as drowsiness. These nutrients can also safely be used by people who can't use anti-histamines due to potential complications of other medical problems.

Antibiotics: Since the use of antibiotics can stimulate candida (yeast) overgrowth that can interfere with weight management, we rely on our special formulation, AI#6. Taken at the onset of symptoms, this formulation of special nutrients supports the immune system during the crucial first days of infection. Often this can prevent the need for antibiotic treatment.

Arthritis Medications: Due to the chronic nature of arthritis, relying on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis can affect weight loss.

Many patients can quite comfortably use our special formula, Arthricare, often in combination with Essential Oils Formula, Sea Cucumber, Pantethine and Glucosamine Sulfate.

  7. My doctor has given me diuretics (water pills) because I retain water especially before my period. How can I get off these pills?

ANSWER: If water pills are prescribed simply for water retention and not for the treatment of heart disease or high blood pressure, there are several nutrients that should allow you to safely stop these drugs. Supplements such as B6, Taurine, Asparaplus and herbal preparations can be very useful. In addition, the use of the low carbohydrate diet has a strong diuretic effect which helps to manage fluid problems. Of course, if these drugs are being used for treatment of heart disease or high blood pressure, any changes must be made under medical supervision.

  8. Can a person with kidney problems be put on the diet? If so, how is the diet adjusted?

ANSWER: The diet can be used safely by any kidney patient whose creatinine level is under 3.0. However, monitoring creatine levels every 2 weeks is required. Creatinine levels above 3 require a doctor's management.

  9. Can patients with high uric acid (gout) be put on the diet? If so, how is the diet adjusted and will gout medication need to be changed?

ANSWER: Gout can be aggravated by the diet. It usually requires slowing the weight loss down to less than 2 lbs per week and taking 300 mg of allopurinol (a prescription drug). If uric acid stays down, allopurinol may be tapered down and stopped after 1 month under a physician�s care.

  10. I have kidney stones. Will the diet cause an attack?

ANSWER: There is no evidence to indicate that this has happened to those on the diet any more frequently than those who are off the diet. You must observe the rule about drinking 8 or more glasses of water per day, and more if sweating, vomiting or diarrhea takes place.

  11. Can I go on the diet while taking heart medications? Will they interfere?

ANSWER: Diuretics and cholesterol medications interfere. The others are acceptable, but see answer #4.

  12. Can Type I and Type II Diabetics both follow the diet?

ANSWER: For a type II diabetic, the diet is a Godsend. In fact, it is usually "curative", allowing for normal blood sugar without medication.

For type I, it usually helps to at least cut down on the insulin requirements, but this can only be done if managed by a doctor extremely familiar with treating type I with this diet.

  13. Should overweight cancer patients be on this diet? Won't it overburden the body and cause toxicity?

ANSWER: My overweight cancer patients have done extremely well on this diet, but the decision rests on evaluating the severity of the cancer versus the severity of the obesity problem. I've seen no toxicity.

  14. How long can a person be on 20 grams or less of carbohydrates per day?

ANSWER: As long as that person remains overweight and feels well.

  15. Why do I have bad breath on the diet and how can I improve this problem?

ANSWER: Bad breath is from the production of ketones as you burn body fat and is a good sign that the diet is working. Ketone production is necessary for continuing weight loss. To counteract the odor, you may increase to a slightly higher carbohydrate level; however, this can slow down weight loss.

You may also use chlorophyll (must be sugarless), eat more parsley and dark green, leafy vegetables, and be sure that your water intake is at least 8 or more glasses daily (use water, not another flavored beverage).

  16. What is the highest level of carbohydrates per day recommended for typical maintenance?

ANSWER: Read the chapter on maintenance and understand the principle of CCLM (Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance). You should look for the highest level of carbohydrates that won't allow you to regain or cause hunger and cravings.

  17. Why isn't sugar or caffeine allowed on the diet?


Sugar: It's the worst food of all. If you don't understand why, we suggest you re-read the book until you master all of the myriad reasons.

Caffeine: Caffeine stimulates an overstimulation of insulin, which ultimately promotes weight gain. The biggest need is to stop a caffeine addiction. Once you go 2 weeks without caffeine, you may have it again as long as you don't become dependent on it for energy.

  18. Why is the diet so low in fiber? Will this be a risk for my colon?

ANSWER: The diet is low in fiber because most fiber-containing foods are also high in carbohydrates. Don�t forget to eat salads. There is a colon risk only if you get quite constipated. Use 2 tbsp of psyllium husks in 2 glasses of water every morning and/or 2 tbsp of unprocessed Miller's bran if this is a concern. If constipation persists, magnesium oxide may be helpful as well as an herbal laxative tea.

  19. Why do you allow "fried foods"? They are a known health risk.

ANSWER: Fried foods allow you to enjoy the diet more, and do not adversely affect the body's new metabolic state (lipolysis, or "fat burning") which is created by the diet. However, I do agree that given a choice, broiling or roasting of meat is preferable; both of these two ways of cooking eliminate the "trans fats" that are created by the ultra-high heat of frying.

  20. How much water should a person on the diet be drinking?

ANSWER: Eight (8) glasses is the usual recommendation. Coffee, tea and diet sodas should not apply to this minimum. If it is difficult to drink 8 glasses, then drink as much as you comfortably can.

  21. What nutrients play a special role in weight loss?

ANSWER: L-Carnitine, CoQ10, Dieters' Advantage, FMF#24, and chromium.

  22. Should I take the Essential Oils during the diet even if my cholesterol is okay?

ANSWER: Yes. If your cholesterol is good, 3 daily is enough; however, if either cholesterol or triglyceride levels are high, use 6 daily.

  23. What is best for leg cramps?

ANSWER: Supplements of potassium, magnesium and calcium are needed. Potassium is best replaced by a potassium chloride salt substitute from the supermarket (used liberally).

  24. Saturated fat lowers insulin sensitivity and is not recommended in high amounts by leading health organizations. Why do you allow so much?

ANSWER: I have not found any benefit from cutting down on saturates and replacing them with monounsaturates. However, medium chain fats (MCT's) may be helpful. The reason for including meat, chicken, egg and cheese fats is to maintain the maximum enjoyability of the diet, especially since no harmful effects have been shown.

  25. At what age can a child be put on the diet?

ANSWER: Babies, if showing signs of obesity, should be moved in the direction of this diet as soon as the tendency is noted (no sugar, less fruit and juice, and more protein). If this fails, the carbohydrates should be increasingly restricted. Please do not do this without the guidance of a knowledgeable pediatrician.

  26. Is the diet okay for pregnant or breast-feeding women?

ANSWER: Pregnant women do well on a maintenance level of the diet, but should not use the weight losing level. Nursing women do well if they take extra vitamins, especially 5 mg of folic acid. Please do not do this without the guidance of a knowledgeable obstetrician.

  27. Is the diet good for athletic people? If so, how does it need to be adjusted?

ANSWER: It is excellent for athletes. However, in stamina competition such as marathons, triathons, etc., carb-loading before competition may be necessary/

  28. Can I drink alcohol on the diet?

ANSWER: Alcohol is absolutely forbidden on the induction diet. One should only drink it during the maintenance phase of the diet and then not as the first thing that�s re-introduced after the induction diet. The best alcohol products to have are the hard alcoholic beverages like scotch or rye, followed by vodka etc. Rum, as it is made from sugar cane should always be avoided. Likewise, wine should be avoided because it is made from grapes which are very high in sugar. Despite all the reports that there are plenty of benefits that may be obtained from red wine, you can take this in the form of a supplement known as grape seed extract. There are many versions of this product; we recommend a product known as Activin to patients at the center.

  29. In the book, Dr. Atkins says we can have bacon. But isn't bacon cured with sugar? How can I find bacon, sausage and other meats without nitrates and/or sugar?

ANSWER: Bacon and many other cured meats, including ham are cured with sugar. Most however in the curing process lose the sugar and it does not become a factor when determining sugar and carbohydrate contents. There are many brands that may be available in your area. I would suggest contacting a local butcher who should be able to provide you with the information you need.


30. I just started the diet and I have a severe headache. What can I do to alleviate this symptom?

ANSWER: Don�t worry; your headache will go away after the third day. Sometimes patients will get withdrawal headaches from all the caffeine and all the sugar they are used to eating. Usually this resolves in the first three days and then your body will be able to start on its new efficient fat burning self. If these symptoms do not resolve, you should contact your local physician. This usually convinces people of the addiction they may have had to either caffeine or sugar or both.

  31. Can a vegetarian be on the Atkins Diet?

ANSWER: Animal proteins are a vital component of the Atkins Diet and the diet cannot be done as successfully without them. They contain many essential fatty acids that cannot be found in any other sources. There are patients, however, for whom we derive a modified ovo-lacto vegetarian diet; they can eat eggs, cheese and tofu for their protein (although it is usually necessary for a person to be able to eat fish, in addition, for the diet to be enjoyable). Our food products, such as Advantage Bars, bake and shake mixes can also be used as meal replacements.

A vegan cannot be on the Atkins Diet. A pure vegan diet could never be low enough in carbohydrates, because there are no plants that are carbohydrate free.

We seriously urge vegetarians with a serious weight problem to rethink their position.