Atkins and Ideal Protein – What’s the difference?

Alright, so today I’m looking at the difference between Atkins and Ideal Protein.  Why is this you may ask?  Well, it’s because I’m using a hybrid between the two, to prevent some of the less comfortable side effects of Ideal Protein.

Let’s start with the similarities…Atkins has an A,T,I,N , so does Ideal Protein…no that’s not where the similarities stop, but wouldn’t it be funny if it was?  Both diets are considered ketogenic diets, as in, Ketosis, that fun little 7 letter word which means your body learns to burn its own fat stores rather than rely on carbohydrates.  Secondly, both diets severely restrict carbohydrate intake to force the body into the state of Ketosis; Atkins around 20g of carbs-40g of carbs per day, and Ideal Protein in the same “general” ball park.  OK so they’re similar in that.  Neither allow fruits or various dairy products (Ideal Protein moreso on restricting dairy to 1 oz skim milk/day).  Oh, AND think about how much protein is consumed; on Ideal Protein, it’s packets, shakes or bars, and roughly 60g+ per day, Atkins is using either shakes or bars, although the recommended amount can vary.  Finally, both diets accept that you are taking in less nutrients than what your body needs, so you need vitamins to balance out the deficit.  Oh, and let’s not forget that both are considered EXTREMELY controversial in some circles.

“Gail Frank, PhD, former spokeswoman for the organization and professor of nutrition at California State University in Long Beach, says, “The body needs a minimum of carbohydrates for efficient and healthy functioning — about 150 grams daily.” Below that, normal metabolic activity is disrupted.”

From – “The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you get about 50 to 55 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates. Of the remainder, you should get about 25 to 30 percent from fat and 15 to 20 percent from protein. If you consume 2,200 calories per day, that means you’ll need to get between 1,100 and 1,210 calories each day — or 275 to 302 g per day — from carbohydrates.”

Unfortunately, that is where these diets’ similarities end.  Atkins allows for fatty foods, such as butter, cheese, mayo etc. while Ideal Protein promotes virtually not fat to go along with that side of no carb.  Atkins doesn’t promote vegetable intake like Ideal Protein does.

So what am I doing?  I’m taking a bit from both book.  I’m eating more fat than Ideal Protein recommends.  If I have a bit of cheese I’m not going to walk the plank.  I don’t measure my olive oil when I’m cooking, I’ll even cook with butter (how about them apples?!?) or melt it over my veggies.  I DO eat the 4 cups of veggies/day recommended by Ideal Protein, and have my salt intake every day to ensure good blood pressure is maintained.  Why am I doing this?  Because I feel each diet has some specific qualities that I like, such as both are very straight forward, and have little room for “error” or “fudging” the facts.  Also, they only differ in my diet with the fat intake.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat cheese unless it’s on a burger (which is wrapped in lettuce) or is melted on my broccoli, I don’t drink milk at all (I use a ready to drink shake in my morning coffee for extra protein), I eat no fruits whatsoever (wait, that’s hardly a change from the last 10 years of my life!), and now I can’t help but count calories or carbs and compare with protein with all my possible foodlings that I’ll consume.

16 comments on “Atkins and Ideal Protein – What’s the difference?

  1. Thanks for the Info. it was helpful. I think most of the IP foods taste so bad, I have been looking for Alternate combinations to keep on the ketosis program.

    • Not a problem. I will admit I can eat/drink the same stuff twice a day without it bothering me, but only because I work 5 days a week and barely have time to focus on eating in the first place, let alone WHAT I’m eating. The weekends are much harder, but between Atkins bars and Wonderslim/Proti-Thin products I usually do OK.

    • I have found the “Proti Diet” food which are similar in nature to IP foods do taste quite a bit better and are very close in nutritional value.

    • I agree that the calories have got to be higher. I like that Atkins is so readily available (every grocery store seems to have at least ONE kind of shake and a few kinds of bars), so in a pinch that’s what I’ll grab.

    • Rose:
      I’ve been a HORRIBLE slacker and have regained a decent chunk of my weight loss. I’m still 18 pounds lighter than when I started my weight loss last year (gasp, I’m still smaller? Jeez I feel like a whale!) The combination was working really well for me, I just began to realize that moving into “real” food is a huge problem for me, the packets were “safe” and planned, if that makes sense? I’m trying to exercise more now (joined a gym and am actually going!) and have started cooking real food again, sans the extra fat and calories. I’ll be updating my blog with the info as I come across it, it’ll be a weight watchers points plus approach using the points values and the calculator on my phone as a coach.

  2. Kara
    I experienced the same challenge after leaving the IP diet, but believe of the two, IP provides you with better habits to move forward on in life.

    The atkins diet never made sense to me – how can one consume high fat, high sodium and nitrate foods with minimal consequences? It works for the short term but them you bounce back with high cholesterol to boot.

    IP has helped me to be more selective in what I consume, focus more on eating salads and vegetables while still splurging selectively when I feel the need/want.

    Post IP diet (Phase IV) exercise and willpower are important.


    • It’s always great to hear folks who have successfully lost with IP, it’s such an amazing program! I had originally written about the differences as a “noob” to the Ideal Protein diet, noticing how high in sodium many of the IP packets were I was conflicted between the two diets for a time, but you are absolutely correct in the fat department. Atkins definitely pushed that to the side as if it wasn’t important.

  3. Anyone ever heard of the ITG diet? It’ supposed to be similar to IP, but you can actually exercise on it and buy it online with phone support rather than having to go and weigh in all the time. Just wondering if anyone has had an success or heard anything? I’ve been wanting to try IP, but the nearest clinic is way out of the way and they told me on the phone I couldn’t keep going to the gym! HUH?? I thought the whole point was health?? What does Atkins say about exercise?

    • I’m not familiar with ITG but it does sound interesting. I believe both IP and Atkins are fine with exercise after you go through that initial transition phase, usually about a month.

    • I’ve been doing the ITG diet since May. I’m down to the last few pounds. I started at 172 and I’m now down to 128. 44 pounds and counting! Working my way down to 120. I like their program because they have coaches that are in their home office that will answer your calls or emails. One of them even gave me a cell phone number that I could text if I I had a random question over a weekend. There are also some doctors offices that offer the ITG foods (which actually taste really great compared to some of the food at other companies) around the country too, but I just do it all online…much easier. I was told to cut down the intensity of my workouts in the beginning stages, obviously just because of entering ketosis and getting your body used to all that (yes it was about 3 or 4 weeks).. but over the rest of the summer and into the fall i’ve been doing my usual jogging and light weight training in the gym just to stay fit and keep the metabolism going. Great program, its been working wonders for me and I’ve tried everything in the past!!

  4. I am also doing a combination of Atkin’s and Ideal Protein. When I began in April, it was strictly IP, but it’s so cost prohibitive. My oldest son who is a Marine told me about Isopur Protein Powder at GNC as well as their Protein Bars (QuestBar). I compared the labels with the IP protein packets and it was very similar – slightly higher in protein and slightly lower in carbs. The cost is about a third of what I was spending on IP so I went for it! I am still following most of the IP “rules” however, like the veggies, minimal exercise, etc. BUT – I’ve added more fat to my diet after doing A LOT of research. I’m using more butter, oils and such.

    Now, here’s the best part… I have lost 42 pounds so far in only 5 months. It would’ve been more (my goal has been 10 pounds per month), but I messed up 1 month by skipping lunch. I thought I could lose weight faster by restricting even more calories. SO NOT TRUE! My body went into starvation mode and began storing the calories I got from fats. As soon as I discovered this was the problem, I began eating lunch again and immediately started losing weight again.

    The bottom line (for me) is this: IP is too restrictive when it comes to fats and Atkins is too restrictive when it comes to veggies. Blending these 2 diets together has been the best thing for my weight loss journey. And the best thing? I’m NEVER hungry!

    • Firstly, congratulations on your success! I completely agree that no single approach has ever worked for me in the long run. When I started losing my hair on IP that was the last straw for me, even with me adding 2 tbsp of oil to my diet per day (common practice in Weight Watchers programs) it wasn’t enough to keep my hair healthy. I’ll take a look at those Quest bars, i’ve never tried them but am always on the lookout. We have 2 GNC’s in my town so I’m usually able to find their products easily, and their website is easy to work through as well in case they don’t have something in stock.

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