Is the Atkins diet good for gout patients?

Another popular fad diet that you may have heard of is the famous Atkins diet developed by Robert Atkins M.D. and one time or another you may have had a friend or family member tell you that they were on the diet and losing the pounds. Many people find the Atkins diet the easiest way to lose weight fast.

Nowadays you don’t hear it go by that name, the diet has been recycled into different names, the major player in the game is Ideal Protein with numerous centers across North America. I’ve personally got some family members that do the diet ever so often praising its benefits only to regain the weight they lost within a few months, and then go back again to redo it over and over again. What’s the point? Ya I know high protein/low carb diets are more filling making you less hungry and this helps you lose weight but this is not obviously healthy. Humans cannot live long eating a high protein diet, it’ll wreak havoc to your health putting you at an increased risk of developing disease(s). Gout sufferers should know, a diet in high protein like eating lots of meat is a one of the most common reasons one develops gout and linked to painful gout attacks.

Experts will tell you that our modern meat-heavy western diet is one of the reasons gout is on the rise in the West. As gout sufferers we know that we should limit foods high in purines, compounds that are converted in the body to uric acid. Many of the high purine foods are meats that are dense in cells which break down into lots of purines that may result in higher uric acid levels in the blood causing one gout. Like the Paleo diet which I’ve written about that is also a high protein diet, gout sufferers should also avoid the Atkins diet like the plague.

Since we have a history of gout when it comes to eating protein:

  • Limit protein intake to 4 to 6 ounces a day, if eating only meat for that day try and limit it to 4 ounces only
  • Avoid all the organ meats I’ve previously written about like kidneys, hearts, brains, liver and other meat extracts
  • Avoid processed meats like the ones you find at the deli
  • Avoid seafood like lobster, crab, shellfish, shrimp, mackerel and anchovies
  • Don’t forget you can also get protein from eggs, beans, dairy products, tofu and nuts. But please don’t go eating eggs and meat in the same meal cause that is too much protein

Tart Cherry Extract for Gout

The danger of the Atkins diet

Remember that losing weight too quickly may also trigger a gout attack. Gout sufferers are more prone to wild uric acid fluctuations than regular folk when losing weight since it causes the body to burn muscle over fat. If you suffer from gout and need to lose weight you need to make sure you lose it gradually like 1-2 pounds a week. Remember from my ebook to eat the majority of your daily calories in complex carbohydrates limiting protein and fat intake.

Fat can trap uric acid in your kidneys causing worse health issues down the road. Drinking plenty of water on a daily basis will help your body rid of excess uric acid. High protein diets like the Atkins diet increases the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, gout, osteoporosis and renal disease.

So is it worth it at the end to ruin your health for the sake of a few pounds? These high protein diets like Paleo and Atkins remove the importance of eating fibre and nutrients found in complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, pastas and rice, considered necessary for maintaining good health. I mean come on! You can’t be eating bacon on a daily basis! That is so stupid!

Although there hasn’t been any studies on the subject of gout and the Atkins diet per say, if you’ve read all of my blog posts and the evidence presented from other studies evaluating meat intake with gout, you don’t need common sense to know that you are harming yourself by eating more meat than you are supposed to. Especially red meat. Those gout sufferers suffering from health issues with their kidneys should definitely be not on a high protein diet in fact Dr. Atkins himself heeded the warning in his book as well.

One last point about the Atkins diet and all other high protein/low carb diets, they’re basically a lazy man’s diet. What do I mean? Well for the past century we’ve shifted from working on the farm where we as humans were very mobile, fit and in shape to sitting on a desk for 8 hours a day, obese and basically unhealthy. What the Atkins diet allows you to do is lose the weight by eating all this protein and not exercising whatsoever. Whereas eating a diet high in complex carbohydrates which I advocate, is all about foods that provide you energy but if you do not use that energy, well ya then you’ll gain some weight.

My point is here is that if you want to live a long healthy disease-free life, you must eat the majority of your daily calories in complex carbs limiting protein and fat and exercise a few minutes a day. If you don’t want to hit the gym that’s fine. Take 20 minute walks each day, try the 7 Minute Workout or do some gardening. The important part is to move your body. Use it or lose it like the saying goes.

Finally, did you know that Robert Atkins weighed 258 pounds when he died in 2003 and was considered quite an obese man?Actually his death is quite controversial since his death certificate claims he fell on ice and died but many are saying that it was probably a heart attack that caused the fall in the first place. It was also revealed in the Wall Street Journal that his doctor, Dr. Joseph Fratellone stated that Mr.Atkins was indeed overweight and speculation started stating that he may have died from his own diet. Even the American Medical Association has said publicly that the Atkins diet poses a serious threat to health.

All these diet doctors and authors these days of this low carb craze depend on this money-making machine of bars, shakes, TV dinners, best-selling books and Atkins was no exception, if anything he is the father of the fad diet. Please make sure to read this great article from the Hippocrates Health Institute about the Atkins diet. Whatever you do, do not try the Atkins diet and if you have loved ones that mention they’re on it, point them to this post.

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    28 replies to "Gout and the Atkins Diet"

    • […] Can the Atkins Diet Give You Gout? […]

    • William

      Spiro,Could you give me your opinion on whether deep fried chips (once a week maybe) are suitable for a gout sufferer who just had my first attack, and the more healthy option oven chips would they be ok? Thank you.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Anything deep fried raises uric acid levels, so avoid it if you can. If you really enjoy it then simply have it once a blue moon. Why not try baked in the oven chips? You may like it.

    • Tim R

      I think there is a failure to communicate here. It sounds like when Spiro refers to Atkins he is talking about eating a plate full of meat every day with a twig of parsley on the side. If you do Atkins that way you’re doing it wrong. The literature is very clear about not eating too much meat protein (just read the book not the web). Also if you follow the diet you have to (in phase 1 for 2 weeks) get 20 grams from vegetable carbs a day, that’s a healthy portion of greens at every meal, more than most are probably used to, and goes up from there. When switched to Atkins I ended up eating way more green and fiber rich vegetables that I ever had before, but no starches and or grains (which is what I usually had before Atkins) but you introduce them again (in moderation) after several weeks. So I think Spiro may be overstating the intended amount of protein/fats in Atkins.
      However I don’t think Spiro is totally wrong, I think if your a gout sufferer the truth lies somewhere in the middle, you probably should reduce overall meat consumption, it’s easy on Atkins to overdue the meat portions. I think that is were the problems come in that Spiro is mentioning. I think if you bring that under control Atkins is very healthy, I’ve been following it for 2 years to varying degrees with no gout at all

      That is until now I decided to go back to induction phase, which may have caused a flare up, so now I’m trying to reduce the meat intake but stick with the healthy vegetables, maybe skip to phase 2 where you can bring in more fruits and nuts.

      Overall I would consider going more plant based so long as the sugar intake from breads and starches and fruits are limited if that is what is required to lower uric acid. I think Spiro has some useful advice, as a fellow gout sufferer he has found things that work and don’t work and those things are important to consider. I think his statements on lowering acid levels and consuming foods to balance ph are intriguing.

      *Some Random Notes:

      Spiro is against bacon which is fine, but you get to pick which meats you eat on Atkins the same is in life, you don’t have to eat bacon for every meal. Fish or chicken will suffice and a regular portion is what is recommended in Atkins, which Spiro also emphasizes in his eBook.

      The Tom Brady thing is interesting but one person does not a study make.

      Spiro reads as if he is incensed which makes some of his writings sound conspiratorial and talk-radio’ish that’s getting in the way of his message I think.

      In regards to Atkins death who gives AF, it contributes nothing to the conversation. Just read the book and take issue with his claims, methodologies, and conclusions. Then we can benefit from a different point of view on those things. How he died seems like an easy in-road to discredit him I know, but if that was true it would have worked already. Time to move on.

      There some nice gains from Atkins that are not talked about much. For instance #1 most amazing thing: after about two weeks of being off sugar everything tastes soooo much better. Vegetables are sweeter, all flavors are more distinct, you are not as hungry at meal times so you don’t feel the need to eat too much. I noticed I can discern between different flavors of coffee (weird).
      And don’t forget: energy levels are fantastic and sustained throughout the day. No post lunch crashes. I feel stronger during workouts, can go for longer. Of-course building muscle is easier if you working out because of the steady protein and fat. Carbohydrates burn quick, not great for a long workout or run.

      I think the most important point to emphasize is how things affect uric acid levels in the blood.

    • David


      I have to disagree with your statements about Atkins and increased Gout risk. The following study, albeit small, has provided evidence that a low-carbohydrate diet reduces Uric Acid levels in obese individuals. I am a Gout sufferer who is obese, and I have recently started the Atkins diet, after having done Nutrisystem, and regular diet restriction. I have not suffered Gout on Atkins yet, after being on the diet for a week and having lost 7 lbs. One thing that the new Atkins program is touting is Net Carbs, which is eating high fiber foods to reduce overall Carbohydrates; Net Carbs = Carbohydrates minus Fiber. Atkins has evolved from the 1970s to now allowing a lot more fiber into the diet.

    • Robert


      Sorry to say that I too disagree with your info.

      It does have some grains of truth just like most incomplete science from the eighties. For example the reason we see such a large number of products labeled and touting “low fat” was because of partial science from back then claiming fat was bad. The problem ended up being trans fats and saturated fat not just fat. We all bought into the high carb low fat concept.

      Well now the science of healthy fats is well documented and insulin resistance science is being understood.
      High protein can also raise insulin so you are correct about too much protein not to mention all meat is not the same. Processed meat and meat with GMOs hormones added and steroids are all a problem. Must be grass fed organic meet (omega 3 rather than 6). But you probably need to re examine your information based on current science. Carbs are cancer fuel. Need a healthy balance but that balance should be much lower in carbs than has been pushed for the last 30 years.

    • Victor

      I have been on a keto diet for the last couple months. I did have a gout attack at first but I attribute that to losing weight so rapidly. After that I have been absolutely fine. My BP is about as normal as it gets. I have been enjoying my high fat and protein diet. I feel better than I have in years.

    • Alex V

      Spiro I would suggest you read a book such as “why we get fat.” or I could recommend other such books. Doctors have agreed for a long time on low carb for people with diabetes and people with epilepsy, and now most nutritional scientists and may doctors are starting to align in that the shift to the low fat, high carb is what has created the obesity epidemic we have today.

      The food pyramid is part of the problem, and even the government is backing away from that. I am not sure on the relationship with gout, but you may be right there, but before you get too against it I would start reading a lot to understand the science behind Insulin resistance and carb intolerance in some/many people.


      • Alix

        This very site contradicts what you’re saying: “Studies have suggested that high fat low carb ketogenic diet can help to alleviate the symptoms of gout. … The studies concluded that ketogenic diet had the ability to raise the levels of BHB in the body. BHB in turn inhibits NLRP3 inflammasome and consequently alleviating the symptoms of urate crystal induced gout.” Maybe you should all get on the same page here? BTW, I am not on Atkins diet — I am following a ketogenic diet only because I want to support my husband’s attempt of coming off diabetic meds AND allopurinol (which he’s been on for years).

    • […] Can the Atkins diet Give You Gout? […]

    • Steve V

      I met Dr Atkins at his office for a full check up at his office within 2 months prior to his death. He was NOT obese. After following his recommendations I lost 20lbs, cholesterol improved & triglycerides decreased AND felt great. He died after slipping on ice following a bad ice storm which I recall. The slanders & falsehoods following his death were ludicrous. YOUR “science” is the same rehashed crap I learned in the 80’s. It’s obsolete.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        I would agree to disagree. There is plenty of evidence that it is a unhealthy diet and dangerous. I know the Atkins fans are fanatical about this diet though.

    • Max

      Spiro, your write up was crap. You took a slice of truth and sensibility for “some” gout sufferers and expanded it to the rule for the universe. I’m a cpt Master Trainer and csn with over 20 years in the field and subject. I know a former Mr Universe and have a cell ph number of a former Mr Olympia in my contacts list. So I’m sorry but this write up was crap. Further more, you took a cheap shot at a dead “MD”! As well as the professional coroner (if you think about it) that verified Mr Atkins cause of death. On several points you run like a mad man with speculation and hearsay as if its fact. What you’re doing is reckless (!) not to mention insulting. I’m sure you meant well but, when dealing with health and fitness I’d urge everyone that reads your write up to forget it and move on to a credible source. Feelings do NOT make facts. Even if you sprinkle them with a few pieces of truth. And a last note about your cheap shot on a dead man, like it’s been said here already,… “Shame on you!”

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Max, I know you pro Atkins diet pro Paleo diet, protein, protein, protein, gain muscle, gain muscle types hate what I have to say. I don’t care! The truth is you are all hurting yourselves inside. Outside may look good, but your kidneys are taking a beating by giving it all that protein to process and break down. I admit this is a controversial topic but if I am not so credible why is Tom Brady follow a plant based diet? He is 39 years old and will play well into his mid-forties. His arm strength hasn’t slowed down. He is still at his peak while everybody else is in decline at that age. There are many more athletes who are changing their diet to a plant based one, I predict in a few years that all this Paleo and protein diets will become obsolete and wither away. That is my 2 cents.

      • William Palfreman

        The causes of Dr Atkins death are perfectly well known and you should not spread misinformation. He slipped on ice, suffering an ultimately fatal head injury. This caused multiple organ failure and is the reason for his bloated condition when he died. A dying man being physically unable to excrete water is very different from being fat.

    • I Flatus

      You’re blog is a perfect example of what is wrong with the internet today, as it pertains to consumer health information.
      Looking over the “about” page on your website, I see no citation of any training or education in health or nutrition…Nothing that would indicate any particular expertise on the subject of gout.
      The content in your posts is further proof of your lack of qualification.
      More importantly, you are dispensing information to people with a potentially serious medical condition, based on sources like Wikipedia.
      It is apparent that you are unqualified to interpret scientific study results. Much less disseminate said info to an unsuspecting public.
      Shame on you!

    • […] Protein Diets and Gout […]

    • Mitch

      I read your article on drinking. However, if out with friends or at an event,other than beer, is there any other type of adult drink that is less harmful on gout sufferers?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Mitch!

        Alcohol is alcohol, avoid it if you can. If not, some studies suggest red wine is the preferred alcoholic beverage due to its’ polyphenols.

    • Ron

      Actually the Atkins diet is a high fat, moderate protein, and low sugar and starch diet. The aim of the diet is to reduce insulin, and both protein and carbohydrate stimulate insulin production. Leafy greens, psyllium and Chia provide fibre without digestible carbohydrate. The best definition of the New Atkins diet (Phase 1) is “A Low Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Manual No Sugar No Starch Diet” by Dr Eric C Westman. Westman was the first to rigorously investigate Dr Atkins protocols, followed by Stephen D Phinney & Jeff S Volek. Most arguments against Atkins are straw man arguments, they falsely claim Atkins is high protein, low fibre, then criticize that obviously bad diet.

      Grains like wheat should be avoided by many people, as wheat gliadin can cause leaky gut syndrome, which, in genetically susceptible people, can lead to autoimmune diseases like: Celiac disease, diabetes type 1, thyroiditis, gluten ataxia, psoriasis, vitiligo, autoimmune hepatitis, dermatitis herpetiformis, primary sclerosing cholangitis etc. The starch in wheat has very high GI, and can lead to diabetes type 2, heart disease and all the other consequences of metabolic syndrome.

      People who suffer from gout should avoid fructose. Following a properly formulated low sugar and starch diet will usually help avoid gout.

    • Bruce Mitchell

      This is not to criticize, as your site is a valuable resource and I’m signing up for the newsletter… but the information about the death of Dr. Atkins is incorrect.

      His weight at the time of the fall was 195, at the high end of normal range, not obese. The underlying cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head resulting in an epidural hematoma, which caused coma of 9 days from the time of the fall until death. The immediate cause of death was complications of surgery to relieve the hematoma. Fluid retention caused severe bloating and weight gain of 63 pounds. That is why he appeared grossly obese at death.

      The wife objected to autopsy, so the Medical Examiner only examined the body externally, noting appearance and weight, as well as the history of heart attack some years earlier. Therein lies the misunderstanding.

      Dr. Atkins was not obese in life.

      Having said fhat, I do not favor his diet, as high protein consumption can be deadly for someone like myself with asthma and kidney problems as well as arthritis and gout. I wrote this correction just to set the record straight.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        I hear you Bruce, but the evidence suggests and if you look at the Wikipedia entry, it states: “A medical report issued by the New York medical examiner’s office a year after his death showed that Atkins had a history of heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension.” I’m sure the Atkins diet had something to do with his medical problems. As for cause of death, it shall remain in controversy forever since his wife didn’t allow a proper autopsy.

    • Andie

      This information is so out of date. As a gout sufferer I have been through the problems and tried many diets. 2/3 of the purines in our body are manufactured by the body the remaining 1/3 from diet so the problem could come from within. Latest research has found that gout is strongly associated with diabetes and insulin resistance and that fructose i.e. sugar and alcohol (beer)is likely the main culprits and not purines in meats as previously thought. Higher intake of Vitamin C is believed to combat high uric acid levels (worked for me). So increase leafy greens and red/orange fruit & vegies which also have potassium which works synergistically with the Vit. C. For us gout sufferers ketosis and extreme low carb diets should be avoided. So enjoy average amount od red meats and seafood as they have been exonerated – I eat them all the time and have not had a gout attack since changing to the above recommendations.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Andie!

        What you are saying is totally off the mark! I know the carnivore eaters hate me but there is no real research showing that eating meat in such abundance is good for your health in any way. I’m sorry the science is against you on this one. Also outside of science, common sense should also tell you that! Come one, seafood being healthy? A diet high in animal protein is what is causing most of the diseases we have to deal with today. Read research papers not only from North America but from Asian studies as well.

    • Joe

      I’d love to talk to a doctor and ask, “Do you know if spinach is safe?” And he’ll say, “No!” Instead, you get a shrug, he opens the window, jumps out and runs away. Or he’ll give you the name of a rheumatologist who’s almost as useless.

      I’ve spent nine years educating my doctors, instead of the other way around.

    • Joe

      Dear Spiro,

      I was on the Atkins diet for years and never lost an ounce. I remember reading people were starting to develop gout from it back in 1980s, but it was still a strange disease you’d only hear about in Gothic novels from the 1800s. So none of it made sense to me.

      Back then, I was having more trouble with sugar and yeast (hypoglycemia and candidiasis from antibiotics). It took years to figure that one out, but that’s another story. Gluten and celiac sprue was another one.

      Anyway, gout sufferers have the worst diet restrictions because almost nothing is safe, including our own bodies. 70% of the uric acid is from processing us.

      We can’t have much fruit because fructose = uric acid. Spinach, broccoli, asparagus, beans, peas, eggs, tofu, tomatoes and cauliflower have to be watched too. Oh yes, let’s not forget that nightshades are supposedly bad for arthritis. So what’s left? Styrofoam?

      Despite all this horrendous deprivation, I’m still overweight. Gout meds all stink too. I had a stroke in one eye, five weeks of hemorrhaging from the nose and bleeding gums from allopurinol, and everyone talks about that like it’s jelly beans.

      Thus far, talking to doctors has proven useless. They know less about gout than we do. There are no goutologists and, God knows, if ever there was a disease that requires a specialist, it’s gout. Why are there no goutologists???

      Best wishes,


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