Gout and the Atkins diet. Should gout sufferers use it?

Page 1 of 10 about Gout and the Atkins diet.

Referenced studies and study abstracts, the numbers in brackets, are listed on page 10 of the Atkins diet for gout section.

The Atkins diet for gout articles are across ten pages. 

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This page was last reviewed or updated on 27 March 2015.

William Banting, said to be the first low carb dieter, and a successful one by his account, wrote his Letter on Corpulence (obesity) published in London in 1863. Just about 100 years before Robert Atkins M.D. first went on his low carb diet. It was a widely read booklet that sold 63,000 copies through many editions.

"I have a very strong feeling that gout (another terrible parasite upon humanity) might be greatly relieved, if not cured entirely, by this proper natural dietary, and sincerely hope some person so afflicted may be induced to practice the harmless plan for three months (as I certainly would if the case were my own) to prove it; but not without advice." 

The proper natural dietary was his version of a low carb diet. He lost 46 lbs in 12 months between August 1862 and September 1863. At this time he was 65. He lived to be 81, a good age for that time. *

The diet does not seem to have harmed him and he was delighted with its results. 

Click the link at the bottom of this page if you want to read his booklet.


Gout and the Atkins diet is one of the hottest topics in natural treatment for gout. After all, the Atkins diet is the Western world's best known diet. So it's no surprise that so many people with gout wonder whether it should be used as part of natural treatment for gout and what kind of result they might expect. 

The answer is not straightforward and, as is common with all diets, there are the unknowns, the contradictory opinions from dieters and experts, the different results from clinical studies of the Atkins diet, and from other controlled carb diets (aka ketogenic diets).

The Atkins diet and kidney disease 

Many people who suffer from gout have some degree of kidney disease, (aka renal impairment, renal disease). Dr.Atkins was emphatic in his books that anyone suffering severe kidney disease should NOT do his diet. If you have any stage of kidney disease, make sure you discuss the diet first with your doctor, and don't start it without doing so.

Not many gout and the Atkins diet, and gout and uric acid studies 

One major unknown is that there are no studies about gout and the Atkins diet. Another is there are few specific studies about whether the Atkins diet, or controlled carb diets, reduce or raise, blood (serum) uric acid (UA) levels. Very few studies of these diets take uric acid levels before they begin, whilst they are in progress and when they end.

However, Robert Atkins did have a few useful things to say in his various books, about gout and Atkins, and uric acid levels, on his diet, and we'll look at what he said later on. And there are studies where uric acid fell, or didn't rise, on low carb diets. (14-17) And there's one where it did. (18).

On page 3 of our gout and the Atkins diet section under the heading "Raised uric acid caused by ketosis," you can read what an expert in low carb diets and uric acid, Dr. Steve Phinney, has observed. (There's a link to page 3 at the bottom of this page).

These pages about gout and the Atkins diet assume you know something about this diet - what it involves, why Dr.Atkins said it works for so many, the kind of foods you can eat, and how much and why. It's not an article about the Atkins diet per se.

To follow it carefully you need to understand what carbohydrates are, which foods have them, how the body uses them for energy and what happens when they are controlled or restricted. If it's necessary to explain how something works on the diet from the viewpoint of its pros and cons in gout, for example the part played by lipolysis/ketosis, and what net carbs means, I shall do so.

Learn the diet thoroughly  But, of course, if you know little about this diet, and you and your doctor decide to use it for gout, it is essential you first buy the book - Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution or the latest one The New Atkins For a New You and learn it from the horse's mouth, or in the case of the most recent one, from the three medicine professors/nutrition scientists who have written it - Dr.Eric Westman, Dr.Steve Phinney, Dr.Jeff Volek. It includes new conclusions based on completed research since the publication of Dr.Atkins last book.

Much of what Dr.Atkins said is not always repeated or interpreted accurately. When you really understand it ..... that's when you can look it up on the Internet where there are thousands of opinions about the diet, and a good number about gout and the Atkins diet. In these gout and the Atkins diet pages you'll learn where to find out where the gout-related opinions are.


Let's begin by understanding why the Atkins diet could be good for gout sufferers. Later I'll explain why it may not be. 

Beating or controlling gout is all about reducing the uric acid (UA) level, so the real question about gout and the Atkins diet, is - can the diet reduce it? Losing weight on any diet usually reduces the uric acid level, but because of the absence of studies comparing this diet with others in this matter we don't know which is best.

You would probably get better results on any diet if you also avoid high purine foods, which produce the most uric acid. I don't think avoiding high purine foods whilst using the Atkins diet is difficult. Just have a look. Surely you can cut them out?


Here's one reason for using the Atkins diet for gout. We all know that dieting is not easy. My impression from looking at many diet studies is that they usually show what Robert Atkins himself said about his diet. Because you can always eat something on his diet i.e. whenever you are hungry, and because quantities of food eaten are not limited by their calorie content (the energy they deliver), people are able to stay with it for longer than other diets that restrict calories, or a single food diet fad diet, where hunger is a big issue and one reason why people fail. But studies show this isn't always so. Sometimes people can stay on other diets longer.

The Metabolic Advantage 

Dr.Atkins said his diet had a metabolic advantage - a greater amount of weight loss per calorie consumed. I have the impression that studies usually (not always) show that more weight (and the all-important fat loss) is lost more quickly on the Atkins diet than on a low fat/low calorie, or low protein/high carb diet, or on another type of diet. At least in the first 6 months to one year. A 2006 meta-analysis (a study of studies) comparing carbohydrate intake, found that lower carb intake meant more weight loss than higher carb intake. (19). When compared to a low fat diet, dieters on a low carb diet lost more weight over 6 months. (15).

And in a meta-analysis comparing low carb diets with low fat diets, more weight was lost in the low carbers than in the low fatters after 6 months. (But after a year the results were about the same) (20). So many people will find the Atkins diet the easiest way to lose weight, although of course one of the basic truths of dieting is that you go with the one you find easiest to stay with. Crash diets are always the exception.

Crash diets I think of crash diets as those that recommend a single food or a single manufactured beverage type food. And not eating any carbohydrate would be a crash diet, so would it be if you remained on less than 20 carbohydrate grams a day for an extensive period. Or if you ate less than 1,000 calories a day. And if you have had a gout attack the chances of another on a crash diet would be much higher. If you have high uric acid, a crash diet might trigger it.

Other gout and the Atkins diet pages

Read William Banting's "Letter on Corpulence" online, courtesy of Google books.

Go to page 2 of 10 about the Atkins diet and gout. What Robert Atkins said about his diet and the uric acid level.

Go to page 3 of 10 about the Atkins diet and gout. Read cautions about gout and Atkins, including more about what Robert Atkins said about his diet and gout.

Go to page 4 of 10 about the Atkins diet and gout where I explain our modifications to the Atkins diet for gout sufferers..

Go to page 5 of 10.The Atkins diet and the insulin resistance cause of gout.

Go to page 6 of 10 where I explain my Atkins diet success.

Go to page 7 of 10 Meat and gout on the Atkins diet

Go to page 8 of 10. for free Atkins diet resources

Go to page 9 of 10. What has been said about ketosis and uric acid.

Go to page 10 of 10 which lists the gout studies, study abstracts, other relevant studies and books used as background whilst preparing the pages on the Atkins diet and gout.

Banting ran an undertakers and funeral furnishing business in an historic part of London, St.James's Street. One of his business's Commissions was to refurbish the Coronation chair in Westminster Abbey for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887. In those days undertakers were often also carpenters. From: Duty, Honour, Empire. The life and times of Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen by John Lord. Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., London 1971.

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