It is not essential to start in Phase One, also called the Induction Phase, but for most people it is the best place to start in order to kick start their weight loss. Many people confuse Induction with the whole Atkins diet but it is in fact just the first of four progressively liberal phases. The Atkins Induction Phase lasts two weeks, although if you have a lot of weight to lose you can stay in Induction longer if you wish. The aims of Induction are to:
- To switch your body from burning primarily carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) to burning primarily fat (including your body fat) for energy
- To jump-start weight loss
- To begin forming the eating habits that will make your weight loss permanent and improve your health
In the Induction phase, the idea is that you restrict your carbohydrates to 20g of carbohydrates a day. If you think this means boring food options or that you will be hungry, you will find that this is definitely NOT the case! At this point, telling you that you eat 20g of carbohydrates probably means nothing to you but don’t worry, part of the process is learning about this so that you discover exactly what foods work for you and your metabolism. This is important so that by the end of phase three you know exactly what to do to maintain your new slim figure. And counting carbs is a simple process once you get used to it.
What you eat on in the Induction phase
From day one on Induction – you can eat all types of meat, fish, shellfish as well as a huge range of salads and vegetables. Check out the Acceptable Food List for a complete list of the foods you can eat in Induction. You will notice that there are no carbs in meat and fish while the number of net carbs in the vegetables in phase one are quite low. In the Induction phase, 12- 15g of your daily carbs should come from the foundation vegetables listed under phase one.
The food list above will have given you an idea of the types of food you eat as part of this nutritional approach. The next step is to turn lists of food into meals. We found the easiest approach for the first two weeks was to simply follow the meal plans at the back of the New Atkins New You book. Alternatively the Starter Box comes with a Quick Start Guide with a two week meal plan. Another option is the meal planner on the Atkins site – it has hundreds of meals to choose from so whatever your preferences and tastes you will be able to put together a meal plan to suit you – check out the Atkins recipes here or click on ‘Create your plan’ on this page. The foods you get to eat on Atkins from day one really are delicious so prepare to enjoy!
The advantage of following one of the meal plans above is that the carbs are already calculated for each meal and add up to the recommended 20g per day. Feel free to repeat meals you like or substitute other vegetables, side dishes, snacks or desserts as desired as long as the carb counts are comparable. To check how many carbs are in a food just check the Acceptable Food List. You receive a carb counter book in your Starter Box which includes a comprehensive list of foods and their carb counts.
As you get used to counting carbs, it is a good idea to experiment with different recipes to make sure you find meals that will suit your tastes, budget, time constraints etc. After all, you will not stick to this way of eating if you don’t like the food so its worth putting in the effort to make sure you do customise it to your tastes and lifestyle. The New Atkins New You book has lots of tips to help everyone to follow this program no matter what your culinary preferences, whether you eat out a lot or whether you are vegetarian or vegan!
What is off Limits?
The part that everyone thinks is going to be the most difficult with the Atkins diet is the idea of giving up bread, baked products and foods like pasta. You probably won’t believe this now but once you stop eating high carb foods like this, you also stop craving them! So for Paul and I, passing up on a slice of toast or a scone is no act of will-power, we simply don’t want them anymore. And this kicks in very quickly – after two weeks or even less. So for now just take our word for it – it is much easier than you think it will be! Also it really is better if you do not cheat on this because if you do, you will just start the cravings all over again. So here is a list of what is off limits in Induction:
- Caloric fizzy drinks
- Fruits and fruit juices (other than lemon and lime juice and any fruits listed on the Acceptable Food List)
- Foods made with flour or other grain products – bread, cereal, pasta, muffins, scones, biscuits, crisps, cakes and products like gravy and packet mixes which usually contain flour
- Sugar, sweets and any foods containing added sugar – check the carb amounts on the label.
- Junk food in any form.
- Grains – even whole grains, rice, oats, barley etc
- Alcohol (but don’t worry you can re-introduce it in a few weeks time in Phase 2)
- Any vegetables not on the Acceptable Food List including starchy vegetables like potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Don’t worry however – there is a list of more than 50 other vegetables you can eat!
- On Induction you can eat dairy products such as cream, sour cream, butter and the hard cheeses listed on the Acceptable Food List. However other dairy products including milk (especially low-fat or skimmed milk), cottage cheese, ricotta or yoghurt are off-limits.
- ‘Low-fat’ foods or ‘diet’ products – they are usually surprisingly high in carbohydrates so steer clear.
- Any foods with manufactured trans-fats – this may be listed as hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils.
The list above is not a complete list but use your common sense and stick to the Acceptable Food List and you’ll be fine. Also if you have any questions, just ask your Atkins Support Partner or contact us through this site or our facebook page.
Top Tips for Induction
Our top tips for Induction are:
- Take some time to plan your meals for week one. This way of eating may be quite different from what you are used to so give yourself some time to prepare. This way of eating will become second nature in no time but it is going to require some extra time and effort at the beginning.
- Although you will probably find you are eating more vegetables than you did previously, it is recommended that you take a daily multivitamin and an omeaga-3 fatty acid supplement.
- Buy a notebook and write down what you eat and the amount of carbs at least for the first few weeks. We all selectively remember what we did (or didn’t eat!) otherwise. Believe me, this step alone will make a big difference.
- Take a photo before you start. Wear something figure hugging and take a side and front profile pic. You will be so glad you did in a few weeks or months time when you can compare photos from then with the ‘before’ picture and see your progress. Also take your measurements – you’ll find a measuring tape in your Starter Box. This is important because sometimes you will see the difference in inches before you see it on the scales. The Starter Box also includes a weight and measurement tracker. The actual number on the scales is not important. You just need to know what it is so you can see what progress you’ve made in two weeks time.
One of the science based changes in the New Atkins is the recommendation to drink 2 cups of broth, half a teaspoon of salt or 2 tablespoons of regular soya sauce. For Irish readers, you might be familiar with Bovril.. As with any diet, you will lose a certain amount of water at the beginning. For some, this can be too much of a good thing as it causes you to lose salts as well and for some people this can cause them to feel tired or weak or to have headaches when they start the Atkins diet. Drinking 2 cups of Bovril will prevent these symptoms. And no this does not make Atkins a high sodium diet!
- Don’t forget that sugar is off limits so remember to buy sweetner like sucralose (Splenda), saccharine (Sweet’N Low), stevia (Sweet Leaf or Truvia) or xylitol and have that in your tea or coffee instead of sugar (if you take sugar). Have no more than 3 packets a day and count each packet as 1g of carbs. Also a good idea to get one of the little containers to keep in your handbag (or pocket for the men?!). Most cafes will have sweetener however but still handy to have particularly when visiting friends.
Milk including skimmed milk is naturally rich in milk sugar (lactose) so its off-limits in Induction. However cream is an acceptable and delicious alternative in tea/coffee! Just buy fresh cream or double cream – it really is lovely – and once you try it you’ll never want to go back!
- Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks every day. Don’t skip meals or go more than 6 waking hours without eating. You should definitely not be hungry on this diet!
- Drink lots of water.
- Don’t forget to stock up on your Atkins products so you have suitable snacks to hand at all times. Keep them in your desk at work, your car, handbag – that way you always have a healthy low carb option to hand – they are particularly good if you are out-and-about or busy.
You can have two products a day and you certainly will not feel deprived when eating snacks like the delicious Chocolate Chip Daybreak bar or the Advantage Chocolate Crunch bar or the like! The shakes are delicious and very convenient as well. As well as tasting good, the bars (especially the Advantage range) are very filling so they will fill you up and stop you for reaching for unsuitable high-carb alternatives.
- Check the amount of carbohydrates on labels of everything you buy – don’t assume anything is low in carbs. In Ireland, you can just go by the total amount of carbohydrates on the label (on the Atkins site you may see comments about deducting fiber from the carb amount – this is because the labeling is different in the US and includes fiber in the carbohydrate count). However, you will probably find you are buying much less food that comes with labels with this way of eating in any case i.e. meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.
- Read the following article on the Atkins site with more guidelines on How to do Induction right for more info.
By starting the Atkins diet, you are embarking on a journey that will make a huge difference to your health and well-being – congratulations for taking that first step! Your Atkins Support Partner is there to help you, so be sure to take advantage of that. We look forward to hearing about your success!