Atkins diet foods are easy to find and available everywhere. There are many varieties to choose from, whether you pick prepackaged low-carb diet foods or make your own meals.
No matter how you want to do the Atkins plan, there is a solution out there for you.
You’ll need to keep the Atkins food pyramid in mind when you make food choices for each Attkins Diet Phases.
Table of Contents
Atkins Diet Phases
Before detailling the list of Atkins Phase, you should be familiar with Athkins Diet Basiscs and Foods. So check this Introduction to Atkins Diet: Basics, Appetite Suppression, Food Lists and Pros and cons of the Atkins Diet & Special Atkins Diet
Atkins Diet Phase 1: Atkins Induction
The Induction phase of the Atkins diet is one of the most important stepping-stones to successful weight loss. In addition to the list of acceptable foods, there are a few rules that are important to follow during this period of the diet.
During Induction, you need to eat three regular-sized meals per day or four to five smaller meals. If you find yourself jittery and hungry between meals, try breaking down your meals into smaller portions and eat more frequently.
In order to stave off carbohydrate cravings, you’ll need to constantly keep your body running on the proteins and vegetables on the plan. Never skip meals and never go more than six waking hours without eating.
Atkins diet is not a calorie-restricted diet
You can eat freely from the list of acceptable foods. Do not restrict your fats and proteins. Eat as much of them as you like. Remember, the Atkins diet is not a calorie-restricted diet.
The only thing you need to worry about is your level of carbohydrate grams. Make sure to count your carbohydrate grams when you eat vegetables, cheese and beverages with Splenda. At least 12-15 grams of your allowed carbohydrates should be from your vegetable list. While it may be tempting to eat them all in cheese, vegetables are important to your digestive system (especially while on this diet).
Avoid all fruit, bread, pasta, grains and starchy vegetables
Avoid all fruit, bread, pasta, grains and starchy vegetables (like cauliflower or squash) during this initial period. These foods will be slowly introduced throughout the course of the pre-maintenance phase. Although beans are high in protein, they also include carbohydrates and should be avoided during this phase.
If you feel that you must have some grain products, you should limit yourself to high fiber low-carbohydrate products. However, this may slow down your weight loss process.
Anything that isn’t on the acceptable food list is forbidden during the Induction phase. Don’t be tempted to just have “one bite.” Your one bite may turn into two, and then before you know it you’ll end up ruining your diet.
Adjust the quantity of acceptable foods
Remember to adjust the quantity of acceptable foods to suit your appetite. At the beginning of the Induction phase, you may find yourself eating much, much more than you will toward the end of the phase. As your body breaks its addiction to sugar and carbohydrates, you will be less hungry throughout the day. When this starts to happen, make sure to eat only what you need. Eat until you are satisfied and not overly stuffed.
Track the hidden carbohydrates
Always read the labels of packaged products, even if they claim they are “carb free.” You may find that some products have hidden carbohydrates. The law allows manufacturers to round off to zero if a product has fewer than .5 grams of carbohydrates. Look at the list of ingredients for manufactured products to determine if there are hidden carbs.
You’ll also need to watch out for hidden carbohydrates when you eat out. There are small carbohydrate amounts in gravies, sauces and salad dressings. The best bet is to eat your meat without sauce and eat your salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing.
Water is your friend in Atkins Diet
Remember to drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water, in addition to anything else you might drink. This will keep your body hydrated and help you avoid constipation. You’ll also be able to flush out the by-products created by fat burning.
Keep all of these guidelines in mind when you start the induction phase and you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term success with the Atkins diet.
Atkins Diet Phase 2: OWL Phase
The second phase of the Atkins diet is called Ongoing Weight Loss or OWL. After the rapid weight loss of the 2-week Induction phase, you’ll be slowing your weight loss down just a bit. You’ll add in specific carbohydrates that will make your diet a little easier and your weight loss just a bit slower. However, you will continue to lose weight at a steady even pace with ease.
Add carbohydrates slowly
During the OWL phase you will boost your body’s ability to burn fats. Although you’ll be adding carbohydrates slowly, you’ll still remain in the state of ketosis. You will continue to use your excess fat as fuel for your body, and the pounds and inches will continue to come off.
Make better carbohydrate choices
The OWL phase will also teach you to make better carbohydrate choices. The recipes and guidelines for OWL will increase your knowledge about nutritious food. You’ll replace the poor carbohydrate choices that you relied on in the past with new and better choices.
You’ll also learn how many carbohydrates you can consume and still lose weight. The process of the OWL phase is an experiment in what your specific body does with carbs. During the OWL phase, you’ll gradually increase your daily carb intake from the 20-gram level that you used in induction. Each week you’ll try adding another 5 grams of carbs and then take note of what happens. When weight loss slows too much, you’ll know that you’ve exceeded your personal carb limit.
Develop New healthy Diet Habits
OWL also prepares you for your permanent weight management program (called maintenance). The habits and practices that you develop during OWL will go a long way toward your long-term success. Treat this period of your diet as training for the real “test” – your post diet life.
During the OWL phase, you’ll still be getting most of your carbohydrates from vegetables (just as you do during Induction). It’s important to continue to eat a wide variety of vegetables, as they are good for your overall health and good for maintaining intestinal health during the Atkins diet. You will be able to add more portions of vegetables, and then gradually be able to add nuts, seeds and even berries. However, the main focus of the diet will still be protein.
In a way, the Induction phase is easier than any of the other phases of Atkins. The strict plan always works and always produces weight loss. As you enter the OWL phases, you’ll need to be more mindful of your carbohydrate count and keep better track of your weight. You’ll have more choice and that may lead to more temptations, which could result in a stalling of your weight loss or even weight gain.
Counting carbohydrate grams in Atkins Diet OWL Phase
Counting carbohydrate grams is critical in your OWL success. If you don’t count, you will end up consuming more carbohydrates than you should. However, there are many tools available that can help you with counting. There are several handy, portable books that will tell you the number of grams of carbohydrates in certain foods. Over time, you’ll know the “carb count” for your favorite foods instantly.
Counting carbs is also essential during the OWL phase because you are playing detective. You are investigating to find your personal carb count, the amount of carbohydrate grams that you can eat daily and still lose weight. During the first week of OWL, you’ll move from 20 carbohydrate grams to 25.
Add more Vegetables
It is recommended that you add this in the form of more vegetables, like asparagus or cauliflower. You’ll continue at the 25-gram level for a week, and then move up to 30 grams a day.
As you increase your carbohydrate gram level, watch your weight closely. If you experience too much of a slowdown, you know you’ve gone too high. You’ll find your maximum carbohydrate gram level when you stop losing weight at all. When this happens, you’ll know you’ve reached your limit.
Once you discover your personal carb count, drop down below that number if you want to continue losing weight.
Atkins Diet Phase 2bis : Pre Maintenance Phase
After experiencing the Induction and OWL phases of the Atkins diet, your next step is to enter the pre-maintenance phase. This phase will set you up for a lifetime of healthy and balanced eating and living. You should begin this phase as you come within 5 to 10 pounds of your target weight goal. Your weight loss will be slowed down even further but it is for a purpose. You want to learn the practices and habits that will determine your long-term success.
Increment 5g per W of Carbohydrate
In the OWL phase, you will be adding carbohydrate grams to your daily count in the increment of 5 grams per week. During pre-maintenance you will increase that to 10 grams per week. As long as you are continuing to shed weight (no matter how slowly it is coming off) you will continue to add grams. Ideally, toward the end of the pre-maintenance phase you will be losing less than one pound per week.
According to the Atkins book, you should continue this phase until you get to your goal weight and can maintain it for a month. This process may take anywhere from 1 to 3 months. Your goal is to reach a state called “carbohydrate equilibrium.” This is your ideal carbohydrate intake and it will cause you to maintain your weight perfectly.
During pre-maintenance you’ll get to try a wider variety of foods. Make sure to introduce new foods slowly and increase your carbohydrate intake at a measured pace. Don’t add 20 or 30 carb grams a week. Measuring out the increases in increments of 10 will give you a better idea of your personal carbohydrate count. Knowing this number will help set you up for long term weight management.
Make sure to check with a carbohydrate counter resource book or a trusted website before you add a new food to your diet.
Some examples of 10 carbohydrate gram foods include
- 1/3 of a cup of legumes,
- ½ an apple,
- ¼ cup of potatoes
- and ½ cup of plain oatmeal.
These foods can be included on a daily basis, and then increased the next week.
Delicate balance of carbohydrate counting and exercise
Pre-maintenance is not a perfect process. It takes a delicate balance of carbohydrate counting and exercise to slow weight loss yet still move it forward. You’ll need to pay even closer attention than you have before to make sure that your carb gram increase is not resulting in an increase in weight.
There is a fine line between gaining, maintaining and losing, and during pre-maintenance you are trying to find out just exactly where that line is.
High metabolic resistance
If you aren’t able to add carbohydrates without stalling your weight loss, you may have a high metabolic resistance. You will benefit from increasing your exercise regimen to get your metabolism burning at a higher level. For you, the pre-maintenance phase will resemble OWL more closely.
Some people do a variation on pre-maintenance that allows them to have a treat once a week. Instead of adding 10 grams per day, they allow themselves a 20 to 30-carbohydrate gram treat a few times a week. Examples of the treat could be a piece of a fruit or a serving of sweet potatoes. A glass of white wine or beer also qualifies for this treat.
This is a fun way to reward yourself and still be on the plan.
Average out your carbohydrate intake for the week
Yet another way to do pre-maintenance is to average out your carbohydrate intake for the week. Since life is sometimes unpredictable, it can be helpful to have a bit of flexibility in your eating plan.
For example, if your current carbohydrate level is at 70 grams,
- you can limit yourself to 50 grams one day.
- Then the next day, you can splurge a bit on a meal and have 90 grams for that day.
However, only follow this method if it doesn’t create carbohydrate cravings. Sometimes excess carb grams on one day can make you crave them even more the next day.
The pre-maintenance phase will give you the tools for long-term success. By learning to slowly increase your carbohydrate grams, you’ll have a better hold on the amount of carbohydrates that is right for you.
Atkins Phase 3: Maintenance Phase
The final phase of the Atkins diet plan is lifetime maintenance. This is the time to continue your new eating plan at a maintenance level and keep yourself at your goal weight. The habits you have created will now become a permanent way of life.
During the third phase, pre-maintenance, you learned exactly how many carbohydrate grams your body can tolerate and still maintain your ideal weight. In this phase, you’ll put this approach into practice and learn to live with your ideal carb count on a daily basis.
Lifetime maintenance Phase
During lifetime maintenance you will continue to expand your food selections and eat more carbohydrate grams than you did previously. Depending on your specific metabolic needs, you can eat some of the foods that you enjoyed prior to starting your weight loss program.
If you do choose to eat these foods, they must be moderated and used sparingly.
Count Daily Carb Ideal
Keeping your daily carb count right around your ideal carb count is the easiest way to maintain your weight loss.
You weight may fluctuate by two or three pounds from time to time, but this is perfectly normal. This weight fluctuation is due to hormonal changes in your body.
Overcome Bad eating Habits
During maintenance you’ll also learn how to overcome your previous bad habits. Losing weight and keeping it off means dealing with real-world situations. You’ll develop coping strategies for stress eating, emotional eating and holiday eating. You’ll also develop plans for dealing with eating out in restaurants.
The challenges during the maintenance phase are many, but they can be overcome.
It’s all about preparation. When you’ve followed the Atkins diet plan for a long time, you’ve learned exactly how many carbohydrate grams you can handle. You’ve also learned what foods trigger carbohydrate cravings and which foods lead to binges. You’ve developed coping strategies over the course of your OWL and pre-maintenance phases that you will have to use in lifetime maintenance.
Never to go back to your previous weight
To prepare yourself for lifetime maintenance, make a promise to yourself never to go back to your previous weight. Make the commitment by donating all of your “fat” clothes.
This way, if you do start to gain more than five pounds, you’ll know that you have to buckle down and eat better. Also, write down in a journal or in a list format all of the benefits of being at your new, thinner size. Write about how much better you feel and how healthy you are. This will cement your new way of life into your mind and your heart.
Fix Ideal Weight Goal Range
Choose your lifetime maintenance weight goal range. This is a range of weight that is acceptable to you.
For example, if your initial weight loss goal was to be 165 lbs, your lifetime maintenance goal will be 160 to 170 pounds.
If your weight starts to creep up toward 170 pounds, then you know that you are being too lenient with your carbohydrate grams.
Never let your weight vary more than 3 to 5 pounds in either direction.
Make a commitment to weigh yourself at least once a week. This once-a-week weigh in will give you a good idea of how you are doing on your maintenance program. Use that weekly weight as a guideline for your approach in eating for the following week.
In addition to these guidelines, make sure to continue an exercise program. Your metabolism depends entirely upon the amount of exercise that you are getting. Making the commitment to exercise goes hand in hand with the commitment to keep eating correctly.
By following these guidelines, you can make lifetime maintenance simple and easy.