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Beginners Guide to the Atkins Diet

The Dr. Atkins diet plan is one of the most popular weight loss methods in use today. Its approach to weight loss is different from so many other weight loss programs because it involves a change in lifestyle, not just a change in eating. Unlike other lifestyle changes, though, the Dr. Atkins diet plan is full of the foods you love so that making the changes necessary is easier than you might think. Here is the beginners guide to the atkins diet.

Atkins diet

What is the Dr. Atkins Diet Plan?

The plan works by reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, which in turn prompts your body to start burning fat as its primary fuel. It is an approach to eating that emphasizes foods which are tasty, flavorful, and wide in variety. No starving yourself required, just eating the right foods as allowed within the low carb plan.

Phase 1 - Induction - Atkins diet

The Induction phase is designed to “jump start” your weight loss by curtailing carbohydrates substantially for 14 days. The idea is to get your body’s metabolism switched over to burning fat. During the induction phase of Dr. Atkins diet plan you are allowed up to 20 grams of net carbs per day (defined as total carb grams minus fiber grams), mainly from leafy green salad and other vegetables that are low in starch.

The rules of induction are very specific and must be followed closely for the process to work. They may seem strict and for the first few days it can be hard to stick with them, but once your body starts to adapt it becomes much easier. It also helps to remember that Induction only lasts for 14 days, after which you are allowed to gradually increase your carbs.

Atkins Diet Induction Rules Include:

• Eat three regular meals or four to five smaller meals each day
• Do not go more than six hours (waking) without eating
• No fruit, bread, grain, pasta, or starchy vegetables
• No dairy products EXCEPT for cheese, cream or butter
• No nuts, seeds
• No chickpeas, kidney beans, or other legumes
• Do not eat anything that is not on the allowed foods list – not even a single bite!
• Cut down on or avoid caffeine as much as possible
• Drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day

The results of induction are usually quite dramatic, as long as you follow the rules exactly. It’s a great way to get yourself going on a low carb lifestyle and enjoy immediate, visible success.

Remember – DO NOT eat any foods during the Induction phase that are not on the allowed foods list. Doing so will only slow down or stop your progress through the Induction process, and may even sabotage your efforts to the point where weight loss stops altogether. If you need help sticking with Induction, look for sources of support by connecting with other followers of the Dr. Atkins diet plan via web sites, online forums, or local community support groups.

Phase 2 - Ongoing Weight Loss - Atkins Diet

The second phase of the Dr. Atkins diet plan is known as Ongoing Weight Loss. In this phase your food choices increase somewhat and you are allowed to increase your net carbs intake each week in increments of five grams per day.

This means that after Induction is over you can add more variety to your diet, as long as you do so gradually and pay careful attention to how your body reacts. Your weight loss will gradually slow as you increase your net carbohydrate increase; how much it slows will depend on your body’s natural metabolism and resistance to carbohydrates.

Each person has a different level of carbohydrates that they can eat and maintain their weight. Above that level weight starts to rise, while below that level weight starts to drop again. During Ongoing Weight Loss as you gradually raise your carbohydrate intake you need to track the number of net carbs you are consuming and note at what level your weight loss levels off. You then know to stay below that level for the remainder of ongoing weight loss.

Phase 3 – Pre-Maintenance - Atkins Diet

Once you are within five to ten pounds of your goal weight you can move into the Pre-Maintenance phase of Dr. Atkins diet plan, where you increase your net carb intake in larger increments each week until you reach the level at which weight loss stops.

Pre-Maintenance is sort of like practice for the rest of your low carb life. By continuing to add carbs in increments and noting at what point your weight loss stops you can establish your Lifetime Maintenance intake of carbs. As tempting as it may be to skip right to the next phase, it is important to follow through on the Pre-Maintenance activities so that you are fully prepared for moving forward with a low carb lifestyle.

Phase 4 – Lifetime Maintenance - Atkins Diet

This phase of the Dr. Atkins diet plan is just what the name implies – a program of eating that maintains your desired weight for a lifetime. If you have been successful in establishing your maintenance level of carb intake and eating low carb has become and automatic habit, you are in great shape, both literally and figuratively.

Living low carb by now has become just a natural part of your everyday life, but that doesn’t mean you won’t occasionally indulge in an extra cookie, a slice of birthday cake, or some other high carb food. It does mean that when you take in a higher level of carbs than normal, you simply cut back for the next few days so that your body remains in balance.

Choosing Foods During Each Phase - Atkins Diet

Choosing the right foods is critical to the success of each phase of Dr. Atkins’ diet plan, especially during induction. It helps to keep a small notebook with a list of allowed foods during each phase, and also to write down the number of net carbs you consume each day. A good carb counter is a great help, too, so you can know at a glance the levels of net carbs in various foods.

There is a wide variety of Atkins foods available in pre-packaged form to help you with ongoing choice of foods. Atkins breakfast bars, snack bars, candy, ice cream and liquid shakes are good options to help add variety to your low carb lifestyle while making it easy to control your carb intake with the Dr. Atkins diet plan.

About the Author - Atkins Diet

Kevin Urban is the editor at, an easy-to-use guide on the Atkins Diet Plan. The site features all the information on Dr. Atkins' Diet Plan, including where to find recipes and Atkins diet snacks.

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