Carnivore Diet vs Atkins Diet: which one can be ideal to shed some extra pounds and reach our health and fitness goals? To answer this question, we need to know what each one is, their pros and cons, their rules and principles, and their similarities and differences. You’ll learn all of this and more here in this article. Let’s read!
Table of Contents
What Is a Carnivore Diet?
A carnivore diet is a dietary approach based on the eating habits of our meat-eating ancestors. Focusing on animal-based products, a Carnivore diet eliminates all plant-based foods to streamline fat melt and weight loss.
Let’s review the main pros and cons of a Carnivore diet and then go through the Atkins diet and its pros and cons.
Simplicity: The Carnivore diet is easy to follow as it includes consuming animal products.
Weight Loss: Consuming fewer calories and more protein promotes weight loss in Carnivore dieters.
Improving Health: Individual reports indicate that a Carnivore diet can positively impact autoimmune disorders or digestive issues and alleviate symptoms.
No Potential Allergens: Eliminating plant foods in the Carnivore diet helps individuals with food allergies or sensitivities to certain plants.
Possibility of Nutrient Deficiencies: Avoiding plant-based foods may cause nutrient deficiencies in some individuals. However, it can be avoided by consuming alternative animal products or supplements.
Risk of Chronic Diseases: Consuming saturated fats in excess can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic health conditions.
Limited Variety: Some may think you can’t eat different foods as the Carnivore diet doesn’t allow various food groups. However, you can solve this problem using various Carnivore diet recipes.
Environmental Impact: Diets focusing on animal products can indirectly cause environmental pollution, like increased greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption.
Lack of Long-Term Research: Further scientific research must be conducted on humans to confirm the effects of the Carnivore diet on humans.
Malnutrition: A Carnivore diet is a short-term eating approach, and continuing it for a long time without medical supervision may lead to nutritional imbalances or malnutrition.
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What Is Atkins Diet?
Developed by Dr Robert Atkins in the 1970s, the Atkins Diet is a low-carbohydrate diet aiming to help weight loss and improve overall health.
The diet has evolved through many decades and includes different phases with varying levels of carbohydrate restriction. The following subsections review the Atkins diet’s main pros and cons.
Weight Loss: The Atkins Diet can help lose weight by restricting carb intake, which decreases calorie intake and eventually increases fat burning.
Blood Sugar Regulation: Consuming low levels of carbohydrates helps stabilise blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
More Protein Intake: The Atkins diet focuses on consuming protein-rich foods, which increases satiety and has other health benefits.
Short-Term Health Benefits: The Atkins diet can improve triglyceride levels, HDL cholesterol, and blood pressure in the short term.
Nutrient Deficiencies: Consuming low levels of carbohydrates may lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, such as fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Ketosis and Ketoacidosis Risk: The initial phase of the Atkins diet puts the body in a state of ketosis, where the body uses ketones to provide energy. Prolonged ketosis can lead to ketoacidosis, which is a dangerous condition.
High Saturated Fat Intake: The diet allows consuming saturated fats from animal products, which can raise the risk of heart disease.
Digestive Issues: Restricting carbohydrates may cause digestive issues in some individuals.
Long-Term Sustainability: The strict carbohydrate restriction may be difficult to maintain over time, causing weight regain after returning to a more balanced diet.
Kidney Strain: Those with pre-existing kidney issues may experience strain and worsened kidney function due to high protein intake.
Lack of Long-Term Research: Further human research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of the Atkins diet on different groups of individuals.
Now that we know both diets separately let’s compare and contrast them to get a general view of the one which can benefit us the most.
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The following table gives us a sneak peek into the Carnivore diet vs Atkins diet and their main differences. A more detailed comparison of the Atkins diet vs the Carnivore diet will follow the table.
Primarily animal products
Variety of foods, including animal and plant-based
Excludes all plant foods
Includes plant foods in later phases
Multiple phases with carb reintroduction
Limited variety of nutrients
Wider range of nutrients from various food sources
Very low or negligible
Moderate to higher fiber intake depending on phase
Limited scientific research
More established with research on different phases
Less flexible due to strict food focus
More flexible food choices in various phases
Potential for higher saturated fat intake
Emphasizes healthy fats, including mono & poly unsaturated fats
Strict and potentially restrictive for faster effects
Gradual transition to a more balanced approach
Carnivore Diet vs Atkins Diet: Food List
One of the main difference between the Carnivore diet vs Atkins diet can be found in the foods these two diets allow and restrict. You can read a full-blown comparison of the foods to eat and avoid in these two diets below.
Food to Eat
Carnivore Diet allows:
Beef (including steak, ground beef)
Pork (including pork chops, bacon)
Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
Organ meats (liver, heart, kidney)
Fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)
Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster)
Dairy (if tolerated; butter, cheese, heavy cream)
Atkins Diet allows the following food groups in its Induction Phase - Foods to Eat:
Protein sources: Beef, pork, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs
Snacking: Animal-based snacks, including Carnivore-friendly birthday cakes, waffles, sandwiches, muffins, and desserts. Find them all here on Carnivore diet recipes.
Processed Foods: Highly processed foods and sugars are strictly avoided.
Supplements: Some Carnivores may take supplements to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
The Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet has multiple phases to gradually reintroduce more carbohydrate sources.
Induction Phase (Phase 1):
Carb Restriction: Restricting carbohydrates to create ketosis and promote weight loss.
Food Choices: Focuses on protein-rich foods, non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and limited nuts/ seeds and cheeses.
Berries: Limited portions of berries.
Sugar and Processed Foods: No sugar and processed foods are allowed.
Beverages: Water, herbal tea, and other non-caloric beverages are allowed.
Later Phases (Ongoing Weight Loss, Pre-Maintenance, Maintenance)
Gradually Increasing Carbohydrates: Aims to gradually increase carbohydrate consumption through different phases.
Foods to Reintroduce: Additional foods like fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grains are reintroduced in controlled amounts.
Caloric Intake: You need to control portions and caloric balance to have sustainable weight loss and maintenance.
Now that we have talked about the Carnivore diet vs Atkins diet differences, let’s check out their similarities and see what they have in common.
Carnivore Diet vs Atkins Diet: Differences
Let’s go through some more details, helping us understand the core of the Carnivore diet vs Atkins diet. Here we’ll focus on these two diets’ purpose, food list, supplements, and simplicity.
The main objective of the Carnivore Diet is fat melt, weight loss, and health improvement through consuming animal products and eliminating plant-based foods.
The Atkins Diet aims to achieve weight loss, weight maintenance, and improve overall health by manipulating carbohydrate intake and inducing ketosis in its initial phase.
The Carnivore Diet
Allowed Foods: Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and limited dairy, including cheese and heavy cream (if tolerated).
Excluded Foods: All plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and processed foods.
The Atkins Diet
Induction Phase (Phase 1): Allows protein-rich foods, non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and limited nuts/seeds and cheeses.
Later Phases: Gradually allow other sources, such as fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grains, in controlled amounts.
Some Carnivore dieters take supplements like vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and electrolytes under medical supervision to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
The Atkins Diet generally allows for a diverse range of nutrient sources, and nutrient deficiency is not common in it. But dieters can take supplements after medical consultation based on their phase and individual needs.
The Carnivore Diet is easy to do, as it only needs the dieter to consume animal products and avoid plant-based foods.
The Atkins diet provides a phased approach, which can make the diet a bit complex but also provides more flexibility and variety.
Carnivore Diet vs Atkins Diet: Similarities
Low Carbohydrate Consumption: Both diets try to decrease carbohydrate consumption.
Ketosis: Both diets aim to reach ketosis to burn fat for energy instead of carbs.
Focus on Protein: Both diets prioritise consuming high-quality proteins.
Satiety and Fullness: Both diets are filling as they contain lots of protein and fat.
Potential for Weight Loss: Both diets help weight loss by decreasing calorie intake and increasing fat burning.
No Processed Foods: Both diets exclude or minimise processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats.
Increased Fat Intake: While the Carnivore Diet contains higher saturated fats, some phases of the Atkins Diet also include higher fat consumption, but from plant-based sources like avocado and olive oil.
Individualisation: Both diets are adjustable and can be changed to adapt to individual preferences and goals.
Short-Term Health Improvements: Both diets provide short-term improvements in markers like triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Speaking of rules and approaches, let’s see how the Carnivore diet and the Atkins diet perform regarding carbohydrates and ketosis.
The Carnivore Diet
Carbohydrate Approach: The Carnivore diet restricts or eliminates carbohydrates and prioritises consuming protein and fat from animal products.
Carbohydrate Sources: The Carnivore diet allows no plant-based carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and starchy foods.
The Atkins Diet
Carbohydrate Approach: The Atkins Diet gradually increases carbohydrate consumption as the dieter progresses through the diet's phases. The first phase (Induction) highly restricts carbs. In the Atkins Diet Progressive Reintroduction phase, dieters gradually reintroduce carbohydrates from specific food sources, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Both diets emphasise reaching ketosis to burn fat instead of carbs to promote fat melting and weight loss, but the Carnivore Diet limits carbohydrate consumption from the start, whereas the Atkins Diet reaches ketosis in its initial phase before reintroducing carbs in later phases.
Carnivore Diet vs Atkins Diet: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?
Individual factors, preferences, and perseverance are among the main factors affecting the effectiveness of a diet.
Both Carnivore and Atkins can help weight loss, but considering the following factors help you decide which one is better for your weight loss.
Focusing on maximising protein and fat and minimising carbs, the Carnivore Diet can increase satiety, which helps reduce overall calorie intake and promote weight loss. Some individuals may experience quick initial weight loss due to consuming fewer carbohydrates.
The Atkins Diet's phased approach helps you reduce carbs gradually, making it easier for some individuals to follow the diet. Its "Induction" phase can boost initial weight loss thanks to low-carb intake and ketosis induction. The possibility of reintroducing carbs in the following phases may make the Atkins diet more sustainable. But carb reintroduction can slow down weight loss or lead to weight regain.
Which is Better for You?
There is no “better diet” for everyone, as each body has its own specifications and status, and each individual has their own goals and priorities. But there are important tips to help you make informed decisions.
Consult a professional first.
Find a sustainable diet aligning with your lifestyle and food preferences.
Consider your goals and see which diet helps you achieve them more easily.
Choose a diet that focuses on nutrient balance.
Monitoring your progress and make adjustments as needed.
All in all, consider the Carnivore Diet if:
You can tolerate and enjoy a restrictive and animal-based diet.
You seek fast weight loss.
You want to be relieved from some health conditions.
You can monitor your changes and address potential nutrient deficiencies.
You want a simple and delicious eating plan.
But consider the Atkins Diet if:
You have time for a gradual approach to decreasing carbohydrates in a phased structure.
You want a flexible diet with a wide range of foods available.
You want a diet with a longer history and more research supporting its effects on weight loss and health.
This article on the Carnivore Diet vs Atkins Diet is a thorough review of the rules, foods, and performance of these two diets. Both approaches try to maximise protein and fat and minimise carbs to reach ketosis and promote weight loss.
To stay healthy and reach your health and fitness goals, you need to consult a healthcare professional and, at the same time, increase your knowledge about different dietary approaches, which is what 5 Minute Body tries to help you with.