The Atkins Diet is a 4-Phase Plan
The Atkins diet is split into 4 different phases:
- Phase 1 (Induction): Under 20 grams of carbs per day for 2 weeks. Eat high-fat, high-protein, with low-carb vegetables like leafy greens. This kick-starts the weight loss.
- Phase 2 (Balancing): Slowly add more nuts, low-carb vegetables and small amounts of fruit back to your diet.
- Phase 3 (Fine-Tuning): When you are very close to your goal weight, add more carbs to your diet until weight loss slows down.
- Phase 4 (Maintenance): Here you can eat as many healthy carbs as your body can tolerate without regaining weight.
However, these phases are a bit complicated and may not be necessary. You should be able to lose weight and keep it off as long as you stick to the meal plan below.
Foods to Avoid
You should avoid these foods on the Atkins diet:
- Sugar: Soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes, candy, ice cream, etc.
- Grains: Wheat, spelt, rye, barley, rice.
- Vegetable Oils: Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil and a few others.
- Trans Fats: Usually found in processed foods with the word “hydrogenated” on the ingredients list.
- “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Foods: These are usually very high in sugar.
- High-Carb Vegetables: Carrots, turnips, etc (induction only).
- High-Carb Fruits: Bananas, apples, oranges, pears, grapes (induction only).
- Starches: Potatoes, sweet potatoes (induction only).
- Legumes: Lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc (induction only).
Foods to Eat
You should base your diet around these healthy foods.
- Meats: Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, bacon and others.
- Fatty Fish and Seafood: Salmon, trout, sardines, etc.
- Eggs: The healthiest eggs are Omega-3 enriched or pastured.
- Low-Carb Vegetables: Kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus and others.
- Full-Fat Dairy: Butter, cheese, cream, full-fat yoghurt.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil.
After Induction is Over, You Can Slowly Add Back Healthier Carbs
Despite what you may have heard, the Atkins diet is actually quite flexible.
It is only during the 2-week induction phase that you need to minimize your intake of healthier carb sources.
After induction is over, you can slowly add back healthier carbs such as higher carb vegetables, fruits, berries, potatoes, legumes and healthier grains like oats and rice.
However, chances are that you will need to stay moderately low-carb for life, even if you reach your weight loss goals.
If you start eating the same old foods again in the same amounts as before, you will gain back the weight. This is true of any weight loss diet.
There are many delicious foods you can eat on the Atkins diet.
Many of these are generally considered fattening because of the high fat and calorie content.
However, when you’re on a low-carb diet, fat becomes your body’s preferred energy source, making these foods perfectly acceptable.
Here are some drinks that are acceptable on the Atkins diet.
- Water: As always, water should be your go-to beverage.
- Coffee: Despite what you may have heard, coffee is high in antioxidants and actually quite healthy.
- Green Tea: A very healthy beverage.
Alcohol is also fine in small amounts. Stick to dry wines with no added sugars, and avoid high-carb drinks like beer.
What About Vegetarians?
You can use soy-based foods for protein and eat plenty of nuts and seeds. Olive oil and coconut oil are excellent plant-based fat sources.
A Sample Atkins Menu For One Week
This is a sample menu for one week on the Atkins diet.
It is suitable for the induction phase, but you should add more higher-carb vegetables and some fruits as you move on to the other phases.
- Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables, fried in coconut oil.
- Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil, and a handful of nuts.
- Dinner: Steak and veggies.
- Breakfast: Bacon and eggs.
- Lunch: Leftover chicken and veggies from the night before.
- Dinner: Cheeseburger (without the bun), with vegetables and butter.
- Breakfast: Omelet with veggies, fried in butter.
- Lunch: Shrimp salad with some olive oil.
- Dinner: Ground beef stir fry, with veggies.
- Breakfast: Eggs and veggies, fried in coconut oil.
- Lunch: Leftover stir fry from dinner the night before.
- Dinner: Salmon with butter and vegetables.
- Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil and a handful of nuts.
- Dinner: Meatballs with vegetables.
- Breakfast: Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter.
- Lunch: Leftover meatballs from the night before.
- Dinner: Pork chops with vegetables.
- Lunch: Leftover pork chops from the night before.
- Dinner: Grilled chicken wings, with some salsa and veggies.
Make sure to include a variety of different vegetables in your diet.
Healthy Low-Carb Snacks
Most people feel that their appetite goes down on the Atkins diet.
They tend to feel more than satisfied with 3 meals per day (sometimes only 2).
However, if you feel hungry between meals, then here are a few quick snacks:
- A hard-boiled egg or two.
- A piece of cheese.
- A piece of meat.
- A handful of nuts.
- Some greek yogurt.
- Berries and whipped cream.
- Baby carrots (careful during induction).
- Fruits (after induction).
How to Follow The Atkins Diet When Eating Out
It is actually very easy to follow the Atkins diet at most restaurants.
- Get extra vegetables instead of bread, potatoes or rice.
- Get some extra sauce, butter or olive oil with your meal.
A Simple Shopping List For The Atkins Diet
It is a good rule to shop at the perimeter of the store. This is usually where the whole foods are found.
Eating organic is not necessary, but always go for the least processed option that fits into your price range.
- Meats: Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, bacon.
- Fatty Fish: Salmon, trout, etc.
- Shrimp and shellfish.
- Dairy: Greek yogurt, heavy cream, butter, cheese.
- Vegetables: Spinach, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, onions, etc.
- Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, etc.
- Nuts: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.
- Seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Fruits: Apples, pears, oranges.
- Coconut oil.
- Dark chocolate.
- Condiments: Sea salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, parsley, etc.
It is highly recommended to clear your pantry of all unhealthy foods and ingredients. This includes ice cream, sodas, breakfast cereals, breads, juices and baking ingredients like sugar and wheat flour.