The Atkins Diet
Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate diet, usually recommended for weight loss.

Proponents of this diet claim that you can lose weight eating as much protein and fat as you want, as long as you avoid foods high in carbs.

What You Can Eat and What You Can’t?

There are four phases to the standard Atkins diet, also called Atkins 20.
It focuses on proteins and fats like:

  • Meat.
  • Poultry.
  • Seafood.
  • Eggs.
  • Butter.
  • Oils.
  • Cheese.

You’ll have to stay away from starchy and sugary carbs, including:

  • Bread.
  • Pasta.
  • Potatoes.
  • Chips.
  • Cookies.
  • Candy.

You’ll eat carbs in veggie form at first. As you progress, you’ll add in other foods, like beans/legumes, fruits and whole grains.

The Atkins Diet is a 4 Phase Plan

Phase 1 (induction): This is when you help your body switch from burning carbs to fat. This process is called ketosis and you should notice weight loss quickly. You’ll eat protein, fat and only 20 grams of carbs in veggie form daily. Some people (like vegetarians) should skip this phase.

Phase 2 (balancing): You’ll add foods back to your diet, until you learn how many carbs you can eat while still losing weight.
Phase 3 (fine-tuning): Go to this level when you have about 10 pounds left to lose. You’ll learn how to maintain weight loss and lose the last few pounds.
Phase 4 (maintenance): You'll follow this for the rest of your life, to ensure that you don’t gain back what you’ve lost.
A newer version of Atkins, called Atkins 40, has more relaxed rules and allows you to start with 40 grams of carbs in the daily diet. It doesn’t exclude any food groups at first, as Atkins 20 does.
There are limits to the amount of butter or fats that you should eat, but no strict guidelines for meats or other proteins.

Foods to Avoid

You should avoid these foods on the Atkins diet:

  • Sugar: Soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes, candy, ice cream, etc.
  • Grains: Wheat, spelt, rye, barley, rice.
  • Vegetable Oils: Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil and a few others.
  • Trans Fats: Usually found in processed foods with the word “hydrogenated” on the ingredients list.
  • “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Foods: These are usually very high in sugar.
  • High-Carb Vegetables: Carrots, turnips, etc (induction only).
  • High-Carb Fruits: Bananas, apples, oranges, pears, grapes (induction only).
  • Starches: Potatoes, sweet potatoes (induction only).
  • Legumes: Lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc (induction only).

Foods to Eat

You should base your diet around these healthy foods.

  • Meats: Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, bacon and others.
  • Fatty Fish and Seafood: Salmon, trout, sardines, etc.
  • Eggs: The healthiest eggs are Omega-3 enriched or pastured.
  • Low-Carb Vegetables: Kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus and others.
  • Full-Fat Dairy: Butter, cheese, cream, full-fat yoghurt.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil.

Maybe Eat

There are many delicious foods you can eat on the Atkins diet. This includes foods like bacon, heavy cream, cheese and dark chocolate.

Many of these are generally considered fattening because of the high fat and calorie content. However, when you’re on a low-carb diet, fat becomes your body’s preferred energy source, making these foods perfectly acceptable.


Here are some drinks that are acceptable on the Atkins diet.

  • Water: As always, water should be your go-to beverage.
  • Coffee: Despite what you may have heard, coffee is high in antioxidants and actually quite healthy.
  • Green Tea: A very healthy beverage.

What about Vegetarians?

It is possible to do the Atkins diet as a vegetarian(and even vegan), but difficult. You can use soy-based foods for protein and eat plenty of nuts and seeds. Olive oil and coconut oil are excellent plant-based fat sources.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians can also eat eggs, cheese, butter, heavy cream and other high-fat dairy foods.

Healthy Low-Carb Snacks

Most people feel that their appetite goes down on the Atkins diet. They tend to feel more than satisfied with 3 meals per day (sometimes only 2).
However, if you feel hungry between meals, then here are a few quick healthy snacks:

  • Leftovers.
  • A hard-boiled egg or two.
  • A piece of cheese.
  • A piece of meat.
  • A handful of nuts.
  • Some Greek yogurt.
  • Berries and whipped cream.
  • Baby carrots (careful during induction).
  • Fruits (after induction).

How to Follow the Atkins Diet When Eating Out

It is actually very easy to follow the Atkins diet at most restaurants.

  1. Get extra vegetables instead of bread, potatoes or rice.
  2. Order a meal based on fatty meat or fatty fish.
  3. Get some extra sauce, butter or olive oil with your meal.

A Simple Shopping List for the Atkins Diet

It is a good rule to shop at the perimeter of the store. This is usually where the whole foods are found. Eating organic is not necessary, but always go for the least processed option that fits into your price range.

  • Meats: Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, bacon.
  • Fatty Fish: Salmon, trout, etc.
  • Shrimp and shellfish.
  • Eggs.
  • Dairy: Greek yogurt, heavy cream, butter, cheese.
  • Vegetables: Spinach, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, onions, etc.
  • Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, etc.
  • Nuts: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.
  • Seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, pears, oranges.
  • Coconut oil.
  • Olives.
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Avocados.
  • Condiments: Sea salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, parsley, etc.

It is highly recommended to clear your pantry of all unhealthy foods and ingredients. This includes ice cream, sodas, breakfast cereals, breads, juices and baking ingredients like sugar and wheat flour.


"The Atkins Diet." The Atkins Diet: Everything You Need to Know (Literally). N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
"The Atkins Diet." Atkins Diet Plan Review. N.p., 17 Mar. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.