What is Atkins 72?

Atkins 72 is the Original Atkins Diet
Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution was Published in 1972

Lately, I’ve had a few readers ask me:

"What is Atkins 72?”

Since I use that term frequently on this blog, I thought maybe there might be more of you that have the same question.

When someone says, "The Atkins Diet," what do you think of?

Most people would think of the book:

Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution

Maybe, you do too.

But that book was published in 2002, only a couple of years before Dr. Atkins died.

Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution was, and continues to be, the most popular book among low-carb dieters, even today. It is often held up as the low-carb bible to newbies.

In fact, it continues to be recommended by members of the low-carb community more than any other version of the Atkins Diet, including the more recent versions like Atkins 20 and 40 created by the ANA (Atkins Nutritionals, Inc.), the company who purchased the Atkins name after Dr. Atkins died.

Regardless of what the ANA claims, Atkins 20 (their version of Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution) is not the original Atkins Diet. That spot in history belongs to Atkins 72.

The original Atkins Diet was published in 1972, and it is very different from the diet that the ANA uses today.

Why is There More than One Version of the Atkins Diet?

Unlike other weight-loss programs, each time Dr. Atkins published a new diet book, the Atkins Diet was modified from prior editions.

Sometimes, the modifications came about due to the way Dr. Atkins' patients or readers responded to the diet, such as the addition of vegetables on Induction or switching to counting net carbs instead of total carbohydrates.

At other times, the modifications were due to nutritional advances, such as the introduction of sugar alcohols or the availability of low-carb products.

The Carbohydrate Ladder was one of the newer additions that surfaced in 2002.

At that point in time, Dr. Atkins believed that there was some merit to the glycemic index of foods. Before that, you were free to create your own personalized low-carb diet with anything you wanted, provided you stayed below your daily carbohydrate tolerance level.

These modifications and changes from edition to edition have been confusing for many dieters, especially newbies. While the basic principle of carbohydrate restriction has stayed fairly consistent over the years, not everything has.
  • The Rules of Induction
  • food quantities allowed on Induction
  • the types of food you can eat
  • how you add carbohydrates back into your diet
  • the way you count carbohydrates
are all different in each book, so how you implement the Atkins Diet depends on which edition of Atkins you are following.

There really isn't a right or wrong version.

All of these different diets work, but you can get really confused and not achieve the results you're looking for if you try to combine the various editions of the diet.

These different restrictions have made it difficult to help someone who doesn't understand how to do the Atkins Diet correctly. It can also be problematic when giving advice when someone is stumbling or has stalled. 
  • Atkins 72 is the version published in 1972
  • Atkins 92 is the 1992 version
  • Atkins 2002 was published in 2002
To make it easier, the low-carb community began using the year the edition was published attached to Dr. Atkins’ name to distinguish one plan from another. This made helping others more practical and simple.

So What is Atkins 72?

Atkins 72 is the very first, original Atkins Diet.

The name of that book was, “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.”

Later on, Dr. Atkins re-titled it to “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution: The famous Vogue superdiet explained in full.”

It was based on a scientific diet he ran into while reading the scientific literature about carbohydrate restriction in the early 1960s.

Dr. Walter Bloom designed a diet to test the metabolic changes that occurred on a no carb diet. The diet wasn't designed to treat obesity. It was simply a 3-day observation diet that consisted of bacon and eggs, meat, and salad.

Fried Eggs, Lean Bacon, Lettuce Salad
Dr. Bloom created a 3-Day Diet:
Eggs, bacon or other meats, and lettuce salad

Intrigued by Bloom’s discoveries that a no-carb diet eliminated hunger, Dr. Atkins decided to test the diet on himself.

It worked so well that he began playing around with assorted no carb and low-carb foods, and found that as long as he started from a zero-carb diet, he could add 10 to 15 carbohydrates per day and still get into dietary ketosis easily.

To Bloom’s original diet, Dr. Atkins added cheeses, cold cuts, cottage cheese, and a ricotta cheese cheesecake he made with sugar substitute, and flavored in a variety of ways.

Through trial and error, he also discovered that he could return as many as 40 grams of carbohydrate to his diet, and stay hunger free while continuing to lose weight, provided he added those carbs back slowly enough – in 5 to 8 gram implements.

He was able to have:
  • vegetables along with the salad
  • a couple of cold melon balls
  • strawberries smothered in whipped cream
  • and even an occasional Scotch before dinner
And still continue to shed those excess pounds.
  • These self-experiments
  • a diet trial undertaken by 65 AT&T workers in 1964
  • and his overweight patients' personal experience
Led to what officially became the very first Atkins Diet in 1972.   
It was revolutionary at the time because it took that initial 3-day diet of:
  • bacon
  • eggs
  • meat
  • salad with oil-and-vinegar dressing
And taught you how to evolve that humble, zero-carb Induction Diet into a food plan that fit your own personal carbohydrate tolerance and food sensitivities.

What Makes Atkins 72 Different?

On the surface, that doesn't sound much different from the 2002 version of the Atkins Diet.

However, in 1972, there was no low-carb products, net carbs, or carbohydrate ladder to dictate the order in which you had to return carbohydrates to your diet. The only vegetable matter was 2 cups of loosely packed greens, with a sprinkle of celery, radishes, and cucumber.

Although Dr. Atkins recommended such forbidden goodies as ham, spareribs, corned beef, and lobster with butter sauce, the approach was extremely personal.

His recommendation?

“One of the big reasons this diet works so successfully is because you eat protein and fat. And you eat them in just about the sixty to forty proportions in which they usually occur together in nature: in a reasonably lean piece of beef for example.”
Dr. Atkins didn’t believe that dieting should be a hardship. That’s why he spent literally years looking for a way of eating that provided almost effortless weight loss.

He didn’t want to be hungry.

And he didn’t want to feel deprived.

He wanted eating to be a pleasure because he knew that if you enjoyed what you were eating, then you would be more likely to stick with it.

The first week of Atkins 72 is basically carbohydrate free, but you do get to eat salad with real salad dressings, such as:
  • oil-and-vinegar
  • Roquefort
  • Blue Cheese
  • Ceasar
There is so little carbohydrate in lettuce that the body considers it biologically zero carb.

However, those salads are more like window dressings because you are limited to a total of less than 2 cups of loosely packed salad total per day.

Atkins 72 is Simple to Follow

The beauty of Atkins 72 is its simplicity.

But, it also takes you back to the very foundation of what a low-carb diet was meant to be and do.

Although the first week may feel rough if you are used to eating tons of carbs or vegetables, an Atkins 72 Induction only lasts for 7 days. That’s all the time you need to get into Ketosis.

After that, Dr. Atkins recommends you begin to fine-tune your diet to fit your individual tastes and lifestyle.

Carbohydrate additions are interchangeable from week-to-week and extremely flexible. Although he later designed a carbohydrate ladder, in the 1970s there was no such restriction.

“I don’t impose that rigidity on my private patients, so why should I do that to you? I am so committed to making this a livable lifetime diet that I am letting you select your own variations, within the rules set up by your biological rule book.”

Put Back What You’ve Missed Most

In 1972, Dr. Atkins believed strongly in the idea of gradually returning to your diet what you missed the most because deprivation and hunger are the two strongest reasons why diets fail. If the diet you create isn’t livable for the rest of your life, you’ll never make it to the finish line.

This is why Atkins strongly recommended you customize the diet to your likes and lifestyle.

“All that matters is that you add back to your diet a little carbohydrate at a time, and that you stop adding carbohydrate when you’ve reached your CCL (Critical Carb Level)….Just keep track of the grams of the grams of carbohydrate you’re adding to the basic diet per day – keep them under eight – and take your choice.”

He didn’t care if that was:
  • grapefruit
  • peaches
  • tangerines
  • sugar-free chewing gum
  • bread made with gluten flour or soy
  • nuts
  • vegetables
  • sour cream
  • or alcohol
In fact, even though he had you carefully find your daily carbohydrate allowance, in 1992, you were even allowed to bend the rules by eating slightly higher carb goodies in weekly allowances, if that’s what it took to keep you on plan.

For the diet itself, check out my older post, Atkins 72 – An Alternative Plan.