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What Do You Eat on The Atkins Diet?

Reviewed on 10/28/2020

What Is The Atkins Diet?

The Atkins Diet is a type of low carbohydrate (“low carb”) diet for weight loss. The diet focuses on limiting carbohydrates to help the body burn fat instead of sugar for fuel.

What Do You Eat on The Atkins Diet?

The Atkins Diet involves four low carb phases, where dieters gradually increase carbohydrate intake in each phase. Each phase has specific eating requirements and dieters are encouraged to drink plenty of water and not to go more than 3 to 4 hours without eating. 

Phase 1

Dieters aim for 20 grams of net carbs a day. Foods include what the Atkins Diet calls “foundation vegetables” that are nutrient-dense and higher-fiber, proteins, healthy fats, and 4 ounces of hard cheese

Phase 2

The net carb intake increases and more types of foods are acceptable in this phase such as berries, melon, cottage cheese, yogurt and other full-fat dairy, and more. 

Phase 3

This phase introduces small amounts of starchy vegetables, fruits, and grains. Dieters are encouraged to note foods that contribute to cravings or slow progress.

Phase 4

This is called the “Lifetime Maintenance” phase, and dieters can continue to eat the same foods they have been eating since phase 3 as long as they maintain their weight. 

In general, foods to eat on the Atkins Diet in Phase 1 include: 

  • Foundation vegetables
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Poultry
  • Meat 
  • Eggs
  • Oils, butter, mayonnaise 
  • Some cheeses
  • Low sugar fruits such as berries, cherries, and melon
  • Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, legumes, and unprocessed high fiber whole grains

As you progress to phases 2, 3, and 4, foods that may be added to eat on the Atkins Diet include: 

  • Yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Fruits such as berries and melon
  • Legumes including lentils and beans
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Additional fruits
  • Whole grains

Foods to avoid on The Atkins Diet include:

  • Foods with added sugars such as processed cookies, cake, candy, pastries, and soft drinks
  • Simple carbohydrates such as in juices, breads, cereals, and dried fruit
  • Starchy foods such as simple carbs like bread, pasta, and rice as well as potatoes, French fries, chips, and corn

What Are Advantages of the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins Diet claims that following their plan will result in:

  • Weight loss
  • Feeling more satisfied
  • More energy
  • A higher metabolism
  • Less stored fat

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared the Atkins Diet to other popular diets (Zone, Weight Watchers, and Ornish) for weight loss, and found each diet modestly reduced body weight and several cardiac risk factors at 1 year.

What Are Disadvantages of the Atkins Diet?

Low carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins Diet can have some health risks, such as:

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Reviewed on 10/28/2020
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