Carnivore Diet vs. Atkins: What’s The Difference?
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Low-carb diets have been on the rise for decades now, and Atkins is just one of many examples. In 1972, Dr. Robert C. Atkins, a cardiologist, introduced the Atkins diet in his book Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution: The High Calorie Way to Stay Thin Forever. It was radical!
His new approach to weight loss revolutionized the world of dieting. Fat is the new best friend. Although Dr. Atkins died, his brand is still going strong with deals worth millions of dollars each year.
In 2016, Atkins was voted the most popular diet in the U.S. It has millions of followers across the globe, and it is what most people think of when the low-carb topic is brought up.
Some people mistakenly think that the carnivore diet is an extreme form of Atkins, or they are both different variants of the same concept. However, this is a far cry from the truth. Let’s dig in!
What is Atkins?
Atkins is a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. Today, Atkins is more than a diet; it’s a brand with hundreds of products to offer from protein bars to full meals.
The brand was built over decades and survived a ton of criticism from doctors and organizations like the American Heart Association.
However, his books were among the best sellers, and his first book sold over 12 million copies making it the best-selling diet fad book ever.
He followed his book with other updated versions of the diet scheme in later years, but his original one is the most popular so far. The diet consists of 4 phases:
Phase 1: Induction
This phase lasts for 14 days. You can eat till satisfaction as long as you keep your total carb intake under 20 g per day.
There is a list of restrictions you can find in the book with items that are Atkins friendly but not permitted in this phase like seeds and fruits. Some people would experience the low-carb flu during this phase.
This flu has been called the keto flu and the carnivore flu as well. We even wrote an article on the subject called:
Phase 2: Ongoing Weight Loss
This phase’s length depends on how much weight you need to lose. The more you need to shed, the longer you stay in it.
Simply, add 5 grams of carbs per day until you reach your “Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing.”
This is the carbohydrate number at which you stop losing weight. You are no longer restricted and can have different food items as long as you are under your critical carbohydrate level.
Phase 3: Pre-maintenance
This is a fine-tuning phase where you need the final push to achieve your target weight, so most people start it when they have a few pounds to lose.
In this phase, you can add up to 10 grams of carbs per week. The diet plan becomes more flexible too. You can even add whole-grain pasta! (That’s definitely not carnivore!)
Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance
After you reach your target weight, you can increase the carbs until you hit the carb level that permits both weight maintenance and a long-term healthy relationship with your diet.
This is the basic outline. However, Atkins added different forms (1), and many diet experts would suggest some changes to this scheme.
Some would even suggest that dieters remain forever in the second phase.
What are the differences?
I think by now you can spot some differences between both diets. You might even wonder how some people might refer to either diet interchangeably.
First of all, Atkins is a weight-loss diet, but the carnivore diet is a healthy lifestyle.
Second, it’s an elimination diet where you eat what you need only. Secondly, the carnivore diet is mainly a zero-carb, high fat, and high protein diet. Atkins is a moderate-protein diet.
Thirdly, the carnivore diet doesn’t allow plant-based food or drinks, not even diet sodas. On the other hand, Atkins promotes using oils like coconut oil and avocado oil.
The carnivore diet cancels a whole food group, carbohydrates; Atkins modifies your relationship with carbs. It promotes removing refined carbs, including healthier whole-grain options, and manipulating carb levels throughout your journey.
I think that the Carnivore diet wins in some aspects:
- Simplicity: the carnivore diet is pretty simple. It’s water, salt, and meat. You don’t need to get a ton of alternatives to have a simple meal. I think that the ‘’flexibility’’ the diet offers can be its own pitfall. The more you try to re-create the same diet choices you previously had through the flexibility Atkins provides, the less likely you are to continue on the diet. The carnivore diet reshapes your relationship with food at least that is the philosophy. (2) For example, you can recreate your favorite dessert and still be within your carb limit. This makes you crave your old habits. This effort to preserve your habits should be put in creating new healthier ones.
- Easy to follow: simplicity makes the carnivore diet a pretty easy diet to follow. In Atkins, you will need to read many diet books and always have the internet or an app within reach before you eat anything to calculate your net carbs. If you survive the mess at first, you will know by heart your regular food items nutritional facts after a month or so.
- Meal preps: it becomes a hassle to weigh and log in every single meal you have, so you must prep meals beforehand on Atkins.
- Counting Macros: as you can see, Atkins revolves around the carb levels. You will find yourself a slave to food balances, carb calculators, and your target macros.
- Ketosis is not the target: your main focus should be on what you eat and making sure you receive all the essential nutrients and minerals.
- No phases: the carnivore diet is straightforward. You don’t need to stress on how many carbs you need to consume this week or when you need to shift phases.
- Shopping isn’t a hassle: Atkins encourages this culture of consumption of substitutes to enjoy Atkins friendly options of your regular foods. Instead of regular flour, use coconut or almond flour. You will be the prey of many companies that just want to sell. After some time, it consumes you.
Are there any similarities with the carnivore diet?
Yes. Both diets promote upping your fat intake and eating more organic and healthier foods.
They also give similar health benefits like increased clarity and energy levels, better diabetes control, and weight loss. These diets are satiating too.
If you are truly hungry, you can consume protein and fat guilt-free whenever you want. Of course, some dieters would try to incorporate intermittent fasting to speed their weight loss.
Moreover, both diet advocates suggest that supplement intake is essential for either diet’s success.
And speaking of supplements most doctors and advocates say that it’s beneficial to increase salt intake. In the book, “The Carnivore Code” by Dr. Paul Saladino he mentions that we should try to get 6-10 grams of salt per day. (3)
He recommends this brand of salt Redmond Ancient Sea Salt. Mainly because this salt is sourced from Utah and is free of microplastics and toxins which can found from sea salt sourced from the ocean. This link may give you a 15% discount at checkout otherwise use the coupon code WILD.
Also, electrolytes have been key for me on the carnivore diet. I use the Redmond brand as they are packed with what I believe to be a perfect combination of electrolytes. The pre-mixed powder is called Re-Lyte and you can use this link also for a 15% discount!
For more details on electrolytes and how they apply to a carnivore diet check out this article:
Both Atkins and the carnivore diet may seem like two faces of the same coin. However, the regimen, concept, and targets are different.
Whatever you choose to try, make sure you understand it quite well and that it fits your goals and lifestyle. If you suffer from any chronic disease or have any health issues, have a word with your doctor before you proceed.
Most importantly, focus on your health and chose whatever you see yourself sticking to the longest.
Motivation and Knowledge
If you are looking for motivation I would highly suggest hiring a coach through Dr. Shawn Baker’s platform MeatRX. You can also book me as your one on one carnivore diet coach as I am on Dr. Baker’s coaching team.
Or check us out on YouTube. We have some fun and exciting carnivorous content!
If you are looking to go all meat then you are going to need to learn how to cook with meat. That was one of my mistakes in the beginning, not knowing how to cook with enough meaty variety!
Then I picked up this cookbook by Jessica Haggard at Prial Edge Health called, “The Carnivore Cookbook.” The cool thing is that this book comes in both PDF and Paperback. Definitely add this to your cookbook collection as you will resort to it frequently! (For a limited time you can use ANDY5 at checkout for $5.00 off)
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Consult with and ask your doctor about any diet or medical-related questions. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.