By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Aug 02, 2004 at 5:30 AM

{image1}Are you on the Atkins diet but still want to eat out? No problem! Although fast food places have eagerly jumped on the low-carb bandwagon, local restaurants are making dining out without the guilt of cheating as easy as cooking "Steak Ums."

The bottom line of the Atkins diet (FYI: The official Atkins Center prefers "The Atkins Nutritional Approach" instead of "diet") is to switch your body from a carbohydrate-burning metabolism to a primarily fat-burning metabolism.

Dr. Robert C. Atkins blames carbohydrates -- grains, pastas, fruits and starchy vegetables like potatoes -- for weight gain. According to Atkins, if you cut the carbs, you'll drop the pounds. Atkins is also highly critical of sugar and recommends eliminating it from your diet. Instead of carbs and sugar, Atkins eaters are allowed plenty of fat and protein.

And although there are potentially serious health risks linked to the Atkins approach like osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer and renal disease, plenty of people have dropped lots of pounds while eating foods like steak, cheese, eggs and vegetables.

If you've made the decision to attempt the Atkins way, we've compiled a list of eateries in Milwaukee that are ready to respect your choice.

First of all, you can really adapt any menu to be Atkins friendly. Most meals come with a vegetable and a potato, which, in most cases, can be swapped for a second vegetable.

The Milwaukee Ale House, The Chancery, Flannery's, Bean's and Barley, Rock Bottom, Pieces of Eight, Ma Fischer's and Coast -- none of which had formal "Atkins menu items" - all said they are willing to make exceptions for Atkins dieters and allow substitutions.

But it's the large chains and the fast food joints that have gone all-out -- perhaps you could say they are a bit more gimmicky -- and have unveiled "low carb" and "Atkins" menu items.

TGI-Friday's has created an "Atkins Approved section" to their menu, offering appetizers like Tuscan spinach dip and buffalo wings and entrees such as New York strip, "cheeseburger cheeseburger," sizzling chicken with broccoli, salmon filet, tuna salad wrap and a grilled chicken Caesar salad.

Applebee's now offers two sides of vegetables instead of a potato or French fries and offers Atkins-friendly steaks and smothered chicken. They also do not bring bread to the table if you mention Atkins.

Burger King has a "low-carb menu," serving bun-less Whoppers, Chicken Whoppers and Double Whoppers that are also sans the mayo and ketchup.

McDonald's is also willing to whip up a bun-less burger. One employee said they went from serving burger-less Big Mac's during the '90s low-fat/vegetarian craze to the millennium's low-carb bun-less burger.

Subway has an "Atkins wrap" which translates into any type of sub wrapped in a tortilla instead of a bun. Jimmy John's subs offers an "Unwich," featuring sub fixings wrapped in lettuce. And Cousin's said they make "subs in a bowl" for Atkins devotees. (Hmmm ... sounds a bit like "pizza on a stick" from the Steve Martin movie, "The Jerk.")

"Sushi restaurants are a pretty good option," says Trish Hundhausen who lost 20 pounds on the Atkins meal plan.

But Hundhausen also admits, "When I told my doctor about going on the diet, he was not too crazy about the idea, and just thought that sticking to a healthy and varied diet with exercise is the ticket. He said, 'Since you are in your thirties, I'll say it's okay, but if you were older I would not.'"

Restaurants that are more on the gourmet side may not be as able to accommodate Atkins dieters. Walker' Point's Crazy Water admitted to probably having too many ingredients in their meals to be a "sure thing" for those hoping for low-to-no carb meals.

Bottom line? Successful Atkins eating is easily accomplished in chain restaurants and in finer dining establishments simply requires creativity -- and calling ahead.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.