A well-known low-carb diet created by Dr. Robert Atkins, the Atkins diet became popular during the low-carb diet craze. Rejecting traditional nutritional diet programs, the Atkins diet promotes eating large amounts of proteins and fats while restricting carbohydrate intake. The diet restricts the intake of carbohydrates because Dr. Atkins believed the tremendous increase of refined carbohydrates in American diets has lead to the obesity epidemic.
Phase 1 - Induction Restrictions
During the induction phase of the Atkins diet, the first 2 weeks, all carbohydrate intake is limited to 20 grams per day. During this phase, all vegetables that are not considered low carbohydrate (basically any vegetable that isn’t green), all fruits, all alcoholic beverages and all refined carbohydrates are prohibited. Caffeine is only allowed if it does not lower blood sugar levels or cause cravings.
Forbidden Foods During Induction
Throughout the first 2 weeks of the Atkins diet, grains and anything made from them are to be avoided. These include bread, cake, cookies and anything else made with flour. Foods that include added sugars, meaning most processed foods, which include hydrogenated corn syrup, are not allowed. Also prohibited are fruits and fruit juices, dairy products except cheeses, legumes and nuts.
Phase 2 - Ongoing Weight Loss
During this phase, a few more food items are permitted gradually. For the most part, alcohol, fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains are still not permitted or are still very restricted.
Refined carbohydrates found in breads, pastas, cookies and chips are still prohibited from the diet. As you progress, some fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains are permitted in restricted moderation.
Starchy vegetables are to be avoided when reducing carbs on the Atkins diet. These starchy vegetables include beets, carrots, potatoes (all kinds), winter squashes, peas, parsnips, plantains and corn. During the ongoing weight loss phase, inclusion of these vegetables is permitted in very restricted moderation.
Any refined sugar is prohibited while on the Atkins diet. In addition, beverages with sugar such as soda and sweet tea, are also not permitted. All food items which include sugar, mainly processed foods, are not allowed during any point on the diet.
Alcohol & Caffeine
Any type of alcohol is also to be avoided while on the Atkins diet because it is mostly comprised of empty calories, carbohydrates and sugar.
While on the Atkins diet, caffeine is also to be avoided because it can cause blood sugar levels to rise or create food cravings.
Highly processed meats, such as deli meats, often contain hidden sugars that can sabotage weight loss and induce cravings for sugary foods, so they are to be avoided as much as possible.