The Atkins Diet is a popular low-carb diet program that began in the 1960s, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because this diet limits carbohydrates, you will need to be careful about what you eat so that you don’t exceed your daily limit.
The flip side of carbohydrate restriction: Unlike many other diets that require you to count calories or cut down on high fat foods, on the Atkins diet you can eat fat as well as protein. , according to Cleveland Clinic.
If you are considering this diet, you might be wondering what foods you can eat, as well as what foods are prohibited from the Atkins diet. Here’s what you need to know.
How the Atkins Diet Works
There are a few variations of the diet, including the Atkins 20, Atkins 40, and Atkins 100, depending on the Atkins website – a main difference between these plans is the number of carbohydrates you can take in the first phase.
In general, this diet has four phases: the first phase, known as induction, limits carbohydrates the most, while the following phases allow for the gradual reintroduction of carbohydrates, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Note: Although carbs are limited on the Atkins diet, note that you are counting net carbs (not total carbs), according to the Mayo Clinic, which means you will subtract the fiber content of foods from the total number of carbs. carbohydrates.
Here’s what to expect during each of the four stages of the Atkins diet:
- Phase 1 (Induction):You’ll only get 20 grams of net carbs per day, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This phase lasts 2 weeks or more, according to the Mayo Clinic. During this phase, you can anticipate weight loss.
- Phase 2 (balancing):During this less restrictive phase, you can incorporate more nutrient-dense carbohydrates, according to the Mayo Clinic. That said, your daily carb intake is limited to 30 net carbs, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
- Phase 3 (pre-maintenance):You’ll continue to add more food, with 10 additional net carbs allowed each week you’re in this phase, according to the Mayo Clinic. You will stay in the pre-maintenance phase until you reach your target weight.
- Phase 4 (Maintenance):Once you’ve reached your goal weight, your goal will be to stay that way, limiting carbs to 120 a day, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Following a low-carb diet – like Atkins – will help you lose weight, and may also help prevent type 2 diabetes and lower your risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. That said, you may experience temporary side effects including headaches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal upset.
Foods You Cannot Eat On The Atkins Diet
While many foods are completely off limits during the early stages of the Atkins diet, some are allowed in the later, less restrictive stages.
During the first phases – induction and balancing – of the Atkins diet, you will not be able to eat foods made with grains and flour. The carbohydrates in these foods are just too high, given the diet’s limitations on carbohydrate intake.
For example, a slice of white bread contains 14.3 grams of carbohydrate and 0.8 grams of fiber, according to the USDA – that means it has 13.5 net carbs. One cup of corn flakes contains 21 grams of carbohydrate and only 0.8 grams of fiber, per USDA. Eating that bowl of cereal means consuming around 20 net carbs. That’s the equivalent of a full day’s worth of carbohydrates if you’re in the first phase of the Atkins 20 diet.
If you are on the Atkins diet, you will avoid or limit the following foods during the early stages:
- Cereals, such as barley, quinoa, bulgur wheat, and couscous
- Breakfast cereals
- Bakery products such as cookies and cakes
But whole grains – such as barley, kasha and quinoa – can be reintegrated into your diet during the third phase, according to the. Atkins Food Guide. Refined grains will remain banned.
Fruits are high in sugar and carbohydrates and are excluded during the early stages of the Atkins diet, according to the Atkins Food Guide.
Fiber can vary widely depending on the specific fruit. A medium apple provides 25.1 grams of carbohydrate and 4.4 grams of fiber, per USDA, while a cup of grapes contains 15.8 grams of carbohydrate and 0.8 grams of fiber, according to the USDA.
During phase two, you can add low-carb, high-fiber fruits, such as berries, cantaloupe, and honeydew, according to the Atkins Food Guide. In phase three, and continuing into phase four, you can taste even more fruit, including apples, grapefruits, oranges, peaches, and grapes.
All foods with added sugar, which can be listed as sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, maltodextrin, and high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list, are not allowed in the first phase of the Atkins diet.
This includes all desserts, such as pies, cakes and cookies, as well as sweets and soft drinks.
Foods You Can Eat On The Atkins Diet
Although the induction phase of the Atkins diet significantly limits carbohydrates, there are still many foods you can eat. And as you progress through the phases, you will have more and more options.
Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates and should be eaten in large amounts to get the fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants your body needs.
You will be eating what are considered “staple vegetables” on the Atkins diet – these vegetables are high in nutrients and high in fiber, which helps keep net carbs low.
During the induction phase, for example, you can eat green vegetables (including bok choy, turnip greens, and lettuce), as well as zucchini, cucumber, cauliflower, green beans, and many other options, depending on the Atkins website.
From phase 3, you can add starchy vegetables (think: potatoes, corn and carrots) to your meals, depending on the Atkins website.
Foods rich in protein are a key part of the Atkins diet. During the first phase of the Atkins diet, you should have three 4- to 6-ounce servings of protein per day, according to the Atkins website.
According to the diet’s website, good sources of protein include:
- Fish: Salmon, flounder, sardines and cod
- Cheese:Stick to just 3-4 ounces per day as this form of protein contains carbohydrates
- Poultry:This includes chicken, duck and turkey
- Sea food:Limit oysters and mussels, which are higher in carbohydrates
- Me at:Watch out for the sugar in processed meats like bacon
Fat, along with protein, is important in keeping Atkins dieters full and avoiding hunger between meals. Some fats that you can incorporate from the induction phase include butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, and vegetable oil.
From phase two, you can also have nuts and seeds.
Drinking alcohol with the Atkins diet
During the first phase of the Atkins diet, alcohol is prohibited, according to the Atkins Food Guide. Drinking alcohol can interfere with your weight loss efforts because your body will burn alcohol before fat, depending on the Atkins website.
During phase two and beyond, you can consume alcoholic beverages, but you will need to count the carbs in your wine and cocktails as you would any other food or drink that contains carbs and include them in your daily total. .
The Atkins website recommends that you stick to a small glass of wine or spirits like rye, scotch, vodka, or gin. Don’t mix spirits with juice, regular tonic water, or soda, all of which contain extra carbohydrates.
Instead, drink it neat or on the rocks; have a lemon zest or a blender like Seltzer. If you find that imbibition is delaying your weight loss, stop drinking alcohol.
Amount of carbohydrates in popular alcoholic drinks
Think carefully about your choices if you drink alcohol – it’s possible to follow a low-carb diet, as long as you stick to the low-carb options.
Here are the carbohydrates in several alcoholic drinks:
- Strong alcohol :One ounce of vodka contains no carbohydrates, according to the USDA – this is also true for other strong alcohols. (bourbon, gin, tequila, rum or vodka): 0 grams of carbohydrates
- 5 oz glass of pinot noir wine:3.4 grams of carbohydrate, depending on USDA; carbohydrates can vary depending on the variety of wine.
- Beer:Light beer contains 5.8 grams of carbohydrate, per USDA, while a regular beer will contain about twice as much (12.6 grams), depending on the USDA
- Cocktails:Mixers like juice or soda contain carbohydrates, and the use of cocktail mixes also increases carbohydrates – three ounces of pina colada mix contains 35 grams of carbohydrate, according to the USDA, for example.