Understanding the Phases of The Atkins Diet Plan
More and more people are choosing to follow a low carb diet in order to lose weight. One of the most popular ones is the Atkins diet plan. The Atkins diet is made up of 4 phases. In this article, I will mostly talk about Phase 1 more commonly known as the Atkins Diet Induction Phase.
Atkins diet phase 1
This is called the induction phase and the phase where you will lose the most weight. It strictly restricts the number of carbs you can eat to no more than 20 grams. Some people will argue over whether its 20 net carbs or just 20 carbs in general.
Since everyone’s body is different, I suggest you try them both. If you are doing 20 net carbs and don’t seem to be losing any weight, then you need to switch to just 20 grams. When you make the switch you will be essentially restricting yourself to eating meat, cheese, eggs and a very limited amount of vegetables.
The reason behind the strict restriction of carbs is that at this level, you should be able to get into ketosis within 2 days. Ketosis is when your body switches from using carbs for fuel to using your stored fat. That’s one of the reasons why you lose inches first, then you notice the difference on the scale when you go on a low carb diet. To learn What ketosis is – click here
The Atkins diet phase 1 can last for a few days and some people with a lot of weight to lose will stay on it for several months before moving on to the next phase.
How to be successful during the Atkins Diet phase 1
- Eat your veggies! 12-15 net carbs a day should come from vegetables
- Drink lots of water! 8 cups is the MINIMUM you should drink. If you are more active or heavier, you will also need to drink more water. I look at it as helping to flush the fat out of my system LOL
- How much protein should you eat: You should eat 4-6 ounces of cooked protein with each meal
- Make sure you eat enough fat. I’m not saying, go out and eat as much fat as you want. But with a low carb diet you can eat more fat than you normally would. Just keep in mind that the CALORIES from fat can add up fast. And can stall your weight loss.
- Avoid low fat versions of food
- Eat real food and not prepackaged diet foods
- Add a little salt to your food. Whenever I’ve started back on the induction phase (to break a plateau, I experience muscle cramps. By adding a little salt to your food you can avoid this. But don’t add too much! Too much salt can cause you to retain water.
- Train yourself to start to eat “full fat” foods. I noticed when I started, I instinctively would reach for low fat versions of food. Now I eat regular cheese and not the low carb version.
- Track your carb intake! Whether you track on your phone with an app like Myfitnesspal, or just write it in a journal. Its ESSENTIAL that you keep an accurate record of the amount of carbs you are eating during all phases of the Atkins diet
- Avoid alcohol while in phase 1. Yes, many people drink wine or vodka. But this can slow down your progress.
- Should you exercise? A lot of people love the Atkins diet because you can lose weight without exercising. But if you want to see results fast (and who doesn’t) add at least 2 hours of exercise a week to your routine (30 mins 4 days a week). My trainer makes me do 2 days of weight training a week and I have joined a Pilates studio and try to go 2-3 days a week. I’ve also read that people who exercise while on a low carb diet KEEP the weight off!
- You don’t have to count calories, but I noticed that once I started to track my carbs AND calories, I started to see the weight come off faster. Why? I was eating too much protein and fat. I was eating too much period! Its said that a woman on Atkins that wants to lose weight consumes somewhere between 1500 -1800 calories a day and a man consumes somewhere between 1800 to 2000. But keep in mind if you are exercising or more active you will probably need to eat more.
- Meal prep is a HUGE help while on phase 1 of the atkins diet plan. When I get home from work, I like to just reach into the fridge and pull out a meal I made over the weekend. I brought ones that easy to freeze, microwave, and dishwasher safe. I also choose 2 compartments since I generally just have a meat and vegetable.
- Mixing phase 2 foods while on induction: It gets tempting to make some of those great recipes you find on pintrest. But while in the induction phase its better to be strict and stick to the diet plan. This is especially true if you are a bit older and your metabolism has slowed down. When I was in my 20s and wanted to lose 10 lbs fast. A few weeks on Atkins, and I reached my goal. Now in my mid 40s, living an extremely sedentary life, its a lot harder. And I have to be a lot more strict with what I eat.
Atkins diet phase 1 food list
The types of food you can eat on the Atkins diet phase 1 include (but are not limited to) the following:
- All types of fish – ideally fatty fish like salmon & trout
- All types of meat
- Eggs (any style)
- All types of shellfish
- All types of Chicken and fowl
- Fats and Oils
- MCT oil
- Olive oil
- Vegetable oils
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Spaghetti squash
Atkins diet phase 2
Ongoing weight loss/balancing. This is the phase where you start adding more carbs to your diet and seeing how many carbs you can eat a day without gaining weight. During this phase, your weight loss slows down. But it should not stop. If you find yourself in a stall, you may want to go back to the instructions for the Atkins diet phase 1.
Atkins diet phase 3
Pre-maintenance. By this time, you should have some idea how many carbs a day you can eat while still losing weight and not gaining. You should be very close to your goal weight. Some people feel you should slow your weight loss down a lot at this point so that you can avoid the rapid weight gain some low carb dieters experience. These dieters don’t pay enough attention to phase 2 & 3. They are near their weight loss goal, and start to add a lot of carbs to their diet too quickly.
If you take things slow, your body will get used to your new weight loss, and this will be your bodies “normal weight” and it won’t try to get back to what it was used too.
Atkins diet phase 4
At this level, you have reached your goal weight (I suggest you lose at least another 10 – 15 lbs PAST your goal) sometimes as we figure out the number of carbs we will be able to eat for life, we overestimate. And again, you can gain back some of the weight you have lost.