Atkins is more than just a diet program: Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., the company that promotes the low-carb diet, also markets program-friendly food products ranging from snack bars to complete meals.
But if you're also following the gluten-free diet, are any of these products safe for you to eat?
Unfortunately, although Atkins is a particularly gluten-free-friendly diet to follow, most of the company's products will not work for you if you're also gluten-free due to celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
According to an Atkins customer service representative, several Atkins products contain gluten, while others don't include gluten ingredients but may be processed on shared equipment (for more on why this is a problem, see: Should you eat foods made in a shared facility or on shared equipment?).
In addition, gluten ingredients may not be called out on the label — the customer service rep told me that Atkins will identify wheat-based ingredients (the company is required by federal law to do so), but "if the gluten is derived from either barley or rye, then there's no requirement to add either grain to the allergen statement."
- Atkins bars may contain barley, rye, wheat and even wheat gluten, the company said. Also, many bars contain oats that are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley and/or rye, rendering the oats unsafe (for more on this, see: I can't have gluten. Can I safely include oats in my gluten-free diet?).
- Atkins shakes include no gluten ingredients, but the company does not consider them to be gluten-free (see: What does the statement "no gluten ingredients" mean?).
- Several of the Atkins frozen meals contain wheat, and "are labeled with this allergen accordingly," according to the company's representative. Meanwhile, none of the meals are considered safe on the gluten-free diet due to the possibility of gluten cross-contamination (in all likelihood, they're all processed on the same equipment).
So What Can You Eat?
A quick glance through the various products Atkins offers in the U.S. reveals none that look safe, especially if you're sensitive to trace gluten. You might find you can drink an Atkins shake without getting glutened (although I wouldn't try it). I'd definitely steer well clear of the bars and frozen meals.
However, the fact that you can't eat Atkins brand products shouldn't stop you from trying the Atkins diet for weight loss. Atkins easily can be followed when you're gluten-free ... you'll just have to do it without relying on pre-packaged Atkins products.