what can you eat on the atkins diet

Atkins diet for weight loss.. A complete guide to everything you need to know

The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet, usually recommended for weight loss. Proponents of this diet claim that you can lose weight while eating as much protein and fat as possible, as long as you avoid foods that contain carbohydrates.

The Atkins Diet was originally promoted by physician Dr. Robert A. Atkins, who wrote a best-selling book about it in 1972, Since then, the Atkins diet has become popular all over the world, with several books being written.

The diet was originally considered unhealthy and demonic by major health authorities, mostly due to its high content of saturated fats, however, new studies suggest that saturated fats are harmless.

Since then, the diet has been fully studied and shown to lead to more weight loss and greater improvements in blood sugar, “good” HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and other health markers, than low-fat diets.

Although it is high in fat, it does not raise LDL “bad” cholesterol on average, although this occurs in a subset of individuals.

The main reason low carb diets are effective for weight loss is that lower carbs and higher protein intake lead to decreased appetite, making you eat fewer calories without having to think about it.

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The traditional Atkins diet, called the Atkins 20, has four phases. You can expect to lower your carb intake in each phase, but the most restrictive phase is the first, called induction. In the later stages – or if you choose Atkins 40 or Atkins 100 – your carb intake will be higher, but still well below the amount recommended by the experts.

No matter what phase or which version of the plan you follow, you should expect to plan meals around protein and fatty foods; To reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, keep them within the limits suggested in the plan.

What should you eat

There is a separate list of acceptable foods for each stage of the Atkins 20, you will find lists of acceptable foods on the Atkins website for Atkins 40 and Atkins 100.

The chart below shows nutritional recommendations for Atkins 20 Phase I (induction). Keep in mind that many of these foods are considered acceptable (in limited quantities) in Atkins 40.

On the Atkins 100, there are no foods that are off limits. However, you can expect to keep your carb intake under 50 grams per day even on the Atkins 100, so you’ll need to keep portions of carb-rich foods small; To maintain this goal.

Foods compatible with the Atkins diet

  • Foundation vegetables
  • fish and shellfish
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Eggs, cheese and cream
  • Fats and oils

Foods Incompatible With The Atkins System

  • Cereals and grain products
  • Fruit and fruit juice
  • starchy vegetables
  • beans and lentils
  • alcoholic beverages
  • sugary drinks
  • Most processed foods
  • Nuts and seeds

Junk foods

  • spices
  • sauces

Compatible foods

basic vegetables

The bulk of the carbohydrates in the Atkins diet come from basic vegetables. It is important to know how many carbohydrates are in the vegetables you eat. Atkins people should try to eat 12-15 grams of net carbohydrates per day from vegetables such as: spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, and cucumbers. Broccoli, asparagus, and tomatoes.

fish and shellfish

People who follow the Atkins diet are advised to eat 4 to 6 ounces of fish. But other types of fish and shellfish are recommended, including salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, cod or flounder.

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Shellfish such as: crab, shrimp and clams are acceptable foods. Oysters and mussels are fine at this point, but due to their high carbohydrate content, it is recommended that you limit your intake to four ounces or less.


Atkins followers recommend splitting your protein intake between three meals, and getting it from a variety of different sources. Birds including turkey, chicken, duck, and goose are all acceptable. The recommended serving is 4-6 ounces.


Atkins dieters are advised to consume meat in the recommended serving size (4-6 ounces). Acceptable types of meat include: beef, lamb, veal, and venison.

In the Atkins Diet, caution is required about certain types of meat, including pork and other processed meats. These products may contain added sugars because they cure sugar. Atkins customers are also advised to avoid deli meats and other meats with nitrates.

Eggs, cheese and cream

Eggs are a recommended source of protein on Atkins. Cheese contains some carbohydrates, so people in the program are advised not to eat more than 3 ounces a day. Some other dairy products can be consumed, such as: cream and sour cream, but goat milk, yogurt and cheese are not recommended. Country and ricotta cheese.

Fats and oils

While there is a common myth, that people at Atkins eat large amounts of butter and other added fats, this is not true. Atkins dieters are advised to keep their added fat intake to 2-4 tablespoons per day. Acceptable fats include: butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, walnuts, and sesame oil.

Foods that are not compatible with the Atkins weight loss program

Cereals and grain products

The standard diet includes a wide variety of foods made with grains. These foods should not be consumed if you are in Atkins stage 20. These foods include: bread, pasta, cereal, cake and other baked goods. You also do not consume grains such as: rice and oats. and barley.

As you progress through the Atkins Diet program, you will learn to include limited grains in your diet, and it is recommended to choose whole grains that are rich in fiber.

Fruit and fruit juice

While fruits and fruit juice provide many important vitamins, these foods and drinks also provide fructose and other sugars, making them rich in carbohydrates. Some low-carb fruits can be added to your diet in later stages of Atkins, and you avoid them completely in the first stage of Atkins 20.

beans and lentils

Grains and lentils (such as kidney beans, split peas or garbanzo beans) are a good source of nutrients and protein, however, since these foods are also a good source of carbohydrates, you’ll avoid them in most Atkins 20 stages.

sugary drinks

Most non-alcoholic drinks are flavored with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Sugary drinks are prohibited. Drinks made with artificial sweeteners are allowed in moderation. It is recommended that Atkins followers follow the limit of three drinks per day.

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Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are another good source of fat and protein, but they also increase your carbohydrate intake. In general, they are not advised at the induction stage of Atkins. However, if you decide to stay in this phase for longer than two weeks, you can swap three grams of net carbs from vegetables for three grams of nuts or seeds.

Sauces, seasonings and salad dressing

While many sauces and salad dressings are made with fat, many contain added sugars. For example, ketchup and barbecue sauce are high in sugar. Salad dressing can also be a source of added sugar. These products are usually out of control unless they contain natural or added sugar.

Fast food

Almost all processed junk food (also called empty calorie foods) is made from starch or sugar, and even some delicious foods (like french fries and pizza) also contain added sugar. For this reason, these foods are not recommended at any stage of the Atkins stage.

Atkins is designed according to how much weight you have to lose, and according to your goals to build your eating plan. The plan you choose and your progression will determine the timing of the program.

Atkins 20

Phase 1 (induction) on Atkins 20 should last 2 weeks, dieters can take longer if they wish, as long as they tolerate the change well, or if they have a lot of weight to lose. During this time, limit your carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day; To get your body into ketosis.

Phase 2, the balance phase continues until you are within 10 pounds of your goal weight.

During the third stage, you will adjust your diet and add more food options to your daily meal plan. You’ll stay at this point until you reach your goal for at least a month. The last stage is known as “Lifetime Maintenance”. It is designed to be your lifelong eating plan.

Atkins 40

Atkins 40 is for anyone who has lost less than 40 pounds, is pregnant or breastfeeding (as directed by a doctor), or those who prefer a wide range of food options. In this program, it is recommended that you eat three meals per day and eat about 10 grams of net carbs at each meal. You will also consume a snack per day, containing about 5 grams of net carbs each.

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Atkins 100

Designed for those who want to maintain their weight, the Atkins 100 program is designed to be a lifelong eating pattern. In this program, you consume three meals per day that each contain about 25 grams of net carbs each. You can also eat two snacks, each containing 10 to 15 grams of net carbs.


A wealth of information is available for free on the Atkins website, and those interested in diet can also purchase any of the Atkins books. The latest book, “Eat Right, Not Less” was written by Colette Heimowitz, MS and published in 2017.

Those who prefer more convenience can choose to sign up for an Atkins meal kit or a paid plan. Plans range in price from about $75 to about $100 for a week’s daily meal plan These meal kits also include other resources and tools (such as a carb counter and shopping lists) to help you To stick to the plan.

If you learn to cook low-carb foods at home, you may be more successful with the plan. Most consumers can’t afford a meal plan indefinitely, so if you’re planning on sticking with the Atkins diet for life, it pays to learn the skills Necessary to maintain early eating style. There is a large library of recipes on the site. You’ll also find many Atkins-friendly recipes online.

Adapting to ketosis

For those following Atkins 20, it’s also helpful to be prepared for the side effects you may experience during induction. When the body is not given carbohydrates to convert into energy for bodily functions, it uses fats (mainly) for fuel. Switching to a different source of energy will affect your body.

People who are in ketosis (from the Atkins diet or another carbohydrate diet) may experience mood swings, constipation, bad breath (from extra ketones from the lungs), headache, nausea, fatigue, kidney stones, or elevated calcium levels. To prevent these and other side effects, drink water frequently, don’t skip meals, and stay relatively active.

In Atkins 40 and Atkins 100, you may also experience some symptoms from reducing your carbohydrate intake, such as fatigue and constipation. Drinking enough water helps relieve these symptoms.


People who care about Atkins but don’t eat meat can choose to follow the Eco Atkins Diet. The program, developed by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, contains a similar amount of protein and carbohydrates as the original Atkins diet, but replaces high-fat animal protein with vegetable protein. This diet is recommended for vegetarians.

see also: Paleo diet for weight loss

Customers who follow a gluten-free diet will find options at Atkins, in addition to offering gluten-free recipes.

There are also many low-carb diets, which don’t cut carbs quite as well as the Atkins diet. They also lead to weight loss and the health benefits that low-carb diets can provide. One approach might be to start following all the rules of induction, but be prepared to loosen up; If you find that you are about to quit completely.

Pros and Cons of Diet Atkins

The Atkins diet plan has gone through many changes over the years. A strict eating plan includes many unique factors, which you must consider before trying to follow it. Atkins provides many benefits that may make it the ideal diet for some, but the disadvantages may rule it out for others. If you are considering using this diet to lose weight for good, be sure to weigh all the pros and cons of Atkins, before starting the diet.

Pros of the Atkins Weight Loss System

  • Weight loss
  • Not counting calories
  • Hearty eating plan
  • Clearly defined guidelines
  • Focus on high-fiber carbohydrates
  • Multiple resources available

Disadvantages of the Atkins diet

  • Reduced intake of fruits and grains
  • Possible side effects
  • Diet restriction
  • Difficulty keeping the rules
  • Net carbs should be counted


If you’re interested in the Atkins diet, there are substantial studies documenting the benefits of a low-carb diet. Several of these published studies have supported the use of the program for weight loss and other health benefits.

Weight loss

The Atkins diet has a long history of successfully losing weight. Many people have lost weight on this plan, and the program has been studied in several clinical trials. But if you’re considering Atkins for weight loss or weight maintenance, you’ll find that there are a handful of studies with conflicting results.

A study published in JAMA compared the Atkins Diet to LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, and Nutrition, a low-fat, high-carb program based on directions), Zone and Ornish diets for premenopausal women, The researchers found that those who followed Atkins lost more weight and experienced more favorable metabolic effects at 12 months.

Analysis of the latest studies published in the journal Nutrients, comparing Atkins with 19 other diets without specific calorie goals, researchers determined that of the diets evaluated, the Atkins diet showed the most evidence of clinically confirmed short-term and long-term weight production.

However, there is also substantial research comparing high-fat diets (such as Atkins) with calorie-restricted diets. Many of these studies have shown that there is no difference between calorie restriction and carbohydrate restriction; For long-term weight loss, plus, while there is some support for low-carb, high-fat diets, there are still medical experts who question whether the diet is healthy or effective in the long term.

Some studies have shown that Atkins and other ketogenic diets are effective for weight loss. However, other studies have concluded that cutting carbs is no more effective than cutting calories, especially in the long run, and this has led many researchers to suggest that the best eating, lifestyle, weight loss, and weight maintenance plan is the one that you can stick to. have it for life.

Not counting calories

There is growing frustration about using calorie counting for weight loss and weight maintenance, although most nutritionists acknowledge the importance of consuming the right number of calories each day, they do admit that trying to track your intake each day can be tedious and feel overwhelming. that it is restricted.

On the Atkins plan, you see your net carb intake, but there’s no need to count or restrict calories. For many people, this feature of the Atkins plan is more attractive.

Favorite eating plan

Some people like the fact that you can eat richer, more satisfying food on the Atkins diet. For example, some people prefer this diet because delicacies like steak and burgers can stay on their menu.

Foods rich in protein and foods with more fat tend to be satiating. When you feel satisfied after eating, you are likely to delay your next meal, or snack, and may consume fewer calories overall as a result. In fact, some studies have shown that the Atkins plan has lower total calories than other high-carb plans.

However, it is important to note that the latest Atkins releases make recommendations regarding portion size. For example, during phase one, the recommended daily intake for added fat is only 2-4 tablespoons, so you can’t expect to succeed on the Atkins plan; If you eat large portions of fatty meats, butter and cheese.

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Clearly defined guidelines

Those who prefer a structured approach to eating enjoy Atkins. Each phase of the program has a clearly defined time or weight goal.

For example, the first stage lasts for two weeks (in most cases). Phase 2 continues until you have lost 10 pounds of your target weight. Phase 3 lasts until you are comfortably at your goal for four weeks. Extensive lists of acceptable foods are available for each phase, and portion sizes for each food category are clearly defined.

Focus on healthy carbohydrates

The Atkins diet eliminates refined carbohydrates such as baked goods (such as cake and white bread) and encourages eating healthy carbohydrates (such as green vegetables and high-fiber berries), especially in the later stages of the plan, so that you learn the difference between good and bad carbs.

For many people, simply cutting back on refined grains and sugary foods provides immediately noticeable benefits. Drinking water instead of soda, and substituting starchy side dishes for staple vegetables, will probably help you get consistent levels of energy throughout the day. Plus, you’ll lose water weight almost immediately; If you reduce your carbohydrate consumption.

You will likely notice rapid weight loss; When you reduce carbs, the changes that occur to the scale in the first week or two are likely to be due to water loss rather than fat loss.

Widely available resources

You’ll find most of what you need to follow the Atkins plan online. Food menus and other guides are provided on their website. You’ll also find Atkins books and guides in bookstores and online.


If you don’t feel like preparing your own food all the time, Atkins snack bars and other meal alternatives are readily available at many supermarkets and discount stores. You can review the restaurants in your country and are there restaurants available that provide this service)

Disadvantages of the Atkins diet

While some dieters enjoy the benefits of the diet, others struggle to stick to the strict Atkins eating plan.

Reduced intake of fruits and grains

If you’re someone who loves fruit, you may struggle with the Atkins plan. Even if you don’t like fruit, nutritionists recommend that you have about two cups a day; To get the important vitamins and nutrients it provides.

Eventually, you can add some fruits but in the early stages of the diet, you will need to avoid healthy foods like: berries, bananas, apples, and citrus fruits in order to get into ketosis. Once you get close to your target weight, you may be able to eat small amounts of low-carb fruits. (like berries), but some people can’t stay in ketosis when they consume any fruit.

Eating grains is another concern on the Atkins diet. On the Atkins diet, grain-based foods are restricted — especially in the early stages.

Experts recommend that adults consume 45 percent to 65 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates. Many people eat foods containing grains to meet this guideline.

Eating whole grains, too, can help you meet the fiber guidelines, which range from about 22 grams to 33 grams per day for adult men and women.

Possible side effects of the Atkins diet

If you’re a typical eater before starting the diet, you’ll drastically reduce your carb intake. For many dieters, this causes fatigue as your body adjusts to using fat as a fuel source. Some people even refer to the adjustment period as the “keto flu” because It is also not uncommon to experience brain fog and headaches.

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Some people who start Atkins report experiencing constipation, bad breath, and sometimes dehydration as a result of dietary changes in their eating plan. According to Harvard health experts, other common side effects include hunger, lowered mood, and irritability.

adherence (obligation)

Low-carb diets like Atkins are hard to follow because they require you to make a lot of changes right from the start.

Most people follow a standard diet before switching to Atkins. This traditional eating pattern is rich in starchy meals and foods or drinks with added sugars. While a standard diet isn’t necessarily healthy, making big changes in a short period of time can be counterproductive.

In some cases, severe restriction can lead to eating disorders, guilt and weight gain. For this reason, many nutritionists recommend making small changes over a longer period of time, rather than a complete diet overhaul.

Difficult to maintain

Separating from common foods is another challenge for those switching to the Atkins diet. If you interact socially or eat regularly, you can expect to be surrounded by foods restricted in this program such as chips, bread, and pasta.

Not surprisingly, studies have found that adherence to Atkins is low. However, sticking to any diet is challenging and remains one of the major roadblocks to successful long-term weight loss.

Net carb coun

While you don’t count calories on the Atkins plan, you count net carbs. For some people, counting net carbs is as complicated and boring as counting calories, especially when you eat. Calorie counts are becoming increasingly common on restaurant menus. But those who list calories don’t always include the number of carbs, and very few fiber or sugar content on the list, making it impossible to get a net carb number.

Also, there is disagreement in the nutrition community about whether or not the idea of ​​counting net carbs is beneficial for weight loss. The effect of sugar alcohols on metabolism is not fully understood. Also, the definition of “net carbs” is not clearly defined by the FDA. So you may eat a food that advertises a very low net carb intake and it may have more impact on your metabolism than you realize.

important word

Although the Atkins diet is successful for many people, it isn’t for everyone. The induction phase of the Atkins diet is extremely restrictive for the production of nutritional ketosis. It requires careful attention to guidelines for what you can and cannot eat. It’s a good idea to check menus and think about whether you’re willing to give up some common foods in order to succeed.

If you can’t stick to it, remember that there are many diets that can help you lose weight, consider making small changes to improve your health or lose weight — such as eating more fruits and vegetables. You can also work with your health care provider or Get a referral to a registered dietitian to come up with a customized plan to increase wellness or reach or maintain a healthy weight.

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