Critics of Atkins and other low-carb diets often claim that it is impossible to get the full spectrum of vitamins when you go low-carb. This is mostly a misconception.
It is true that you would consume less of certain vitamin-rich foods such as fruit and grains. However, low-carb vegetables and animal proteins also contain plenty of vitamins, and you could get everything you need from those foods alone.
So should you take supplements or not? Dr Atkins thought that you should.
Do I have to take extra supplements on Atkins Diet?
In his original book, Dr Atkins strongly recommended taking supplements to support Atkins Diet. This was partially to silence skeptics who kept saying the diet was nutritionally imbalanced. In addition, he believed that supplements can be helpful to dieters in many ways – beyond simply ensuring sufficient nutrients intake.
In addition to high dosages of some vitamins (mostly B, C and E), Dr Atkins recommended certain supplements to address specific needs, such as high metabolic resistance, sugar cravings or fatigue. See the full list of his recommendations below.
Dr Atkins dedicated a whole chapter of his original book to this subject, and wrote a separate book on the potential medicinal benefits of vitamins (“Dr Atkins’ Vita-Nutrient Solution”). He also devised his own multivitamin/multivitamin formula, called Atkins Basic #3 Formula. (Robert C Atkins (27 May 2009).
Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution. Ebury Publishing. p. 301-307. ISBN 978-1-4070-2768-5.)
What is Atkins Basic #3 Formula?
Atkins Basic #3 Formula was designed by Dr Atkins specifically to complement Atkins diet. It contains 30 different vitamins and minerals, including dosages of B, C and E vitamins that are substantially higher than RDA. The formula also contains chromium, selenium and green tea extract.
Unfortunately, Atkins Nutritionals have recently stopped producing Atkins Basic #3 product. However, many dieters still use it as a guideline for how to supplement their Atkins Diet. You can view the full list of ingredients for Atkins Basic #3 in his original book.
If you are looking for a similar product, please check out our online shop for Nutri-Align Multivit – it has a very similar composition to Atkins Basic 3, and includes L-Carnitine.
What other supplements did Dr Atkins recommend?
Dr Atkins recommended the following supplements during the weight loss stages:
- Atkins Basic #3 (or a similar multivitamin/multimineral formula with high levels of B and C vitamins) – to ensure full intake of nutrients, improve energy levels and reduce sugar cravings.
- Essential fatty acids – omega 3 and 6 capsules as fish oil, flaxseed oil and borage oil, to improve blood circulation and protect arteries from forming plaque.
- Chromium – up to 1000mcg a day (remember to count any dosage included in the multivitamin pill), to normalise blood glucose levels, aid body recomposition and lower cholesterol levels.
- L-Carnitine and Co-Enzyme Q-10 – if your metabolic resistance is high, these nutrients can assist fat-burning metabolism and speed up your transition to ketosis.
- Fibre – psyllium husks or flaxseeds, to ensure healthy digestion and prevent constipation.
Some of these supplements are available from our online low-carb supplements shop.
What about the revised version of the book?
In the latest revision of Atkins Diet book, published in 2010, supplements are only mentioned briefly. The authors advise to take an iron-free multivitamin/multimineral formula, including magnesium and calcium, and an omega-3 supplement. (Eric C Westman; Stephen D Phinney; Jeff S Volek (30 September 2011). New Atkins For a New You, Ebury Publishing, p.82, ISBN 978-1-4464-5842-6.)
Are there any other studies or expert opinions to back up Dr Atkins’ recommendations?
Since Dr Atkins’ book was written, numerous scientific studies confirmed the validity of his recommendations for weight-loss supplementation. Some examples are listed below.
B-vitamins to improve energy and boost metabolism
Institute of Medicine (1998) Folate In Dietary 1,160 Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. National Academy Press, Washington D.C, chapter 8, pp 196-305
Chromium to normalise glucose levels and improve insulin resistance
Anderson RA. Nutritional factors influencing the glucose/insulin system: chromium. J Am Coll Nutr. 1997 Oct; 16(5):404-10.
Green tea to control glucose levels and reduce sugar cravings
Julija Josic, et al. Does Green Tea Affect Postprandial Glucose, Insulin and Satiety in Healthy Subjects: A Randomized Controlled Trial; J Nutr. 2010 Nov.
L-Carnitine to improve insulin resistance and fat metabolism
Amino Acids. 2011 Jul;41(2):507-15. doi: 10.1007/s00726-010-0770-5. Epub 2010 Oct 21. Effects of oral L-carnitine supplementation on insulin sensitivity indices in response to glucose feeding in lean and overweight/obese males. Galloway SD, Craig TP, Cleland SJ.
Multivitamin supplements to improve energy levels and sense of well-being
Nutr J. 2012; 11: 110. Published online 2012 December 14. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-110, PMCID: PMC3545984 Participant experiences from chronic administration of a multivitamin versus placebo on subjective health and wellbeing: a double-blind qualitative analysis of a randomised controlled trial, Jerome Sarris et al.