If your definition of what “works” is quick weight loss, then the Atkins Diet DOES work. Recent studies showed that the Atkins Diet causes greater weight loss than the American Heart Association-recommended high carb, low fat diet. In fact, for obese people with disorders of carbohydrate metabolism (hyperinsulinemia, hypoglycemia, and insulin resistance), Atkins-style diets have been shown to work especially well.
However, if your definition of what “works” is permanent fat loss, then the Atkins diet doesn’t fare so well… but then again neither do any other diets. It seems that despite some encouraging initial successes, Atkin’s dieters still face the same difficulties in keeping off the weight as everyone else. Some of the same studies showing rapid weight loss on Atkins in the beginning also showed substantial weight gain as soon as the diets ended.
Truth is, a growing body of evidence is mounting that carbohydrate restriction can accelerate weight loss in the short term, but it has yet to be proven that it keeps the fat off in the long run.
Which approach towards low carb dieting is best is also up for debate: Not all low carb diets are high fat or ketogenic and not all are “ultra-low” in carbs. A low carb diet can be low in carbs and high in fat, it can be low in carbs and high in protein, or it can be somewhere in the middle.
I predict that continued research will discover that moderate carbohydrate restriction (especially in a cyclical fashion) and careful selection of carbohydrates, will in fact assist with fat loss via hormonal control, metabolic efficiency and appetite regulation. I believe that neither extreme – the severely restricted low carb diet (ketogenic diet) or the very high carb, low fat diet – will emerge the victor.