Eco-Atkins Diet: Eating Vegan, Low-Carb Food

Anyone who has been on any kind of diet knows about the Atkins Diet. It has been around for several years and is a high animal protein, low carb diet. The Eco-Atkins Diet is much the same; however, it is a mostly Vegetarian eating plan. By replacing the animal proteins with plant proteins, the idea is that this will help with weight loss like the regular low carb diet but will also help reduce the bad cholesterol that sometimes is a factor with those on the Atkins diet. It is also simple to modify the diet as to incorporate dairy and eggs in small amounts. The diet swaps all the meat products with things like tofu and no starch gluten foods. Beans and legumes along with nuts, avocado, fruits and vegetables are all incorporated in this eating plan. No starchy foods like white breads and other baked goods are eaten. After the initial phase of the diet, most dairy products are reintroduced back into your normal diet

Low-carb vegetables are the rule, the same as you’d find on a list of acceptable foods with the Atkins diet. Remember, this vegetarian approach is considered ecologically correct, so think GREEN. A strong focus on green vegetables will steer you in the right direction, and there are lots of other low-carb choices you can include, like cauliflower, bell peppers and tomatoes.

Get a solid grasp on which of your favorite vegetables fall on the low-carb side of the list, and let yourself go in the produce aisle at the grocery store or among the booths at your local farmers market.

Don’t overlook options like spaghetti squash (delicious with pesto or red sauce), fresh asparagus (drizzle with coconut oil and sprinkle grated lemon rind on top for an Asian twist), or a colorful mixed sauté of sliced Portobello mushrooms, red pepper, garlic and onion (add jalapenos or serrano peppers if you like it spicy).

The Diet Plan:

The Eco-Atkins diet plan has the same proportions of protein and carbohydrate as the original Atkins diet, but the source of protein is different. Instead of the high fatty meat, the dieters have to include foods like soy, beans, seeds, nuts and non-starchy gluten products to get their daily dose of protein.

1. Protein:

For protein sources, you need to focus on white, pinto, black and garbanzo beans. The other vegetarian sources of protein are vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and peal and couscous barley.

2. Fats:

Saturated fats and trans fats present in whole milk, butter, fatty meat and hydrogenated oils can be very harmful to the heart. You need to swap unhealthy for healthy fats. Some options for healthy fats include canola oil, flaxseeds and walnut oil, avocados and olive oil.

3. Carbohydrates:

The average daily intake of carbohydrates should be around 130 grams, the bare minimum needed by the brain to function properly. You have to choose carbohydrates wisely while following this diet. No starchy foods are permitted in the diet, so avoid foods like white bread, rice, potatoes and baked goods. Fruits, vegetables, oats, white grain cereals and whole grain bread are recommended.

Research Study:

In a trial conducted in the Eco-Atkins diet, 47 people were split into two groups. One group followed the Eco Atkins diet and the other followed a Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. Individuals in both the groups lost 8.8 pounds after 4 weeks of following the diet. They even showed a significant decrease in their blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, the people who followed the Eco-Atkins diet noticed a sharp reduction in their LDL levels and marked improvements in their ratio of high-density lipoprotein. It also showed beneficial changes in the levels and ranges of apolipoprotein, a protein that binds to fat in the body. The result was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in June 2009.

How much does it cost?

It’s moderately expensive. Fruits, vegetables and soy products – which should be filling your cart if you’re doing it right – are generally more expensive than heavily processed foods such as white bread, sugary cereals and sweets.

Will you lose weight?

Eco-Atkins does appear to be an effective way to drop pounds.

  • In a small, short study, researchers split 47 overweight adults with high cholesterol into two groups. For four weeks, one group followed the Eco-Atkins diet while the other group followed a high-carb, lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (58 percent carbs, 16 percent protein, and 25 percent fat). By month’s end, very few participants in either group had dropped out. In both groups, the average weight loss was nearly 5 percent of initial body weight, or about 9 pounds, according to findings published in 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. That’s significant because if you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your current weight can help stave off some diseases.
  • Yet regardless of claims made for low-carb diets, it’s unclear whether the main reason for weight loss is carb restriction or simply cutting calories. A study published in 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that after two years, participants assigned either to a 35 percent or a 65 percent carb diet lost roughly the same amount of weight—6 to 7½ pounds on average. And in 2003, researchers who analyzed nearly 100 low-carb studies concluded in the Journal of the American Medical Association that weight loss on those diets was associated mostly with calorie restriction—not with cutting carbs.


  • Some Eco-Atkins dieters still consume animal proteins like fish and chicken. You can still make ecologically responsible choices by choosing wild-caught fish or free-range chickens that have eaten a vegetarian diet.
  • You can use any of a number of online calculators to determine your BMR and AMR if you don’t feel comfortable working with the equations.