A typical Atkins diet dinner might include grilled steak and vegetables.
If you limit how many carbohydrates you eat, says Atkins diet creator Dr. Robert C. Atkins, you'll force your body into burning fat for energy and lose weight. The Atkins plan leads dieters through four phases, beginning with a highly restrictive Induction phase and ending with a Lifetime Maintenance program to help you keep off the weight you've lost. MayoClinic.com cautions that low-carbohydrate diets can cause fatigue, weakness, constipation and headaches. Don't begin the Atkins diet until you've talked to your doctor.
During the initial two-week phase of the Atkins diet, you can eat plenty of meat, fish, poultry and eggs along with some cheeses and most vegetables, but you're only allowed 20 net carbohydrates daily, so all grains, fruits and milk are restricted. A typical daily menu might include a breakfast of sausages served with eggs and steamed spinach, a lunch consisting of a salad of mixed greens and chopped vegetables topped with grilled steak and a dinner of fish, vegetables and a side salad. For mid-morning and afternoon snacks, you might have cheese or an Atkins granola bar.
Phase 2 of the Atkins diet, called the Ongoing Weight Loss phase, allows you to increase your intake of net carbohydrates by 5 grams each week, eventually working up to between 25 to 45 grams per day. You can eat all the foods from phase 1, along with other types of cheese, nuts, seeds, fruits like berries and some juices, including tomato juice. Breakfast during this phase might be a vegetable frittata, turkey sausage and cottage cheese, while lunch could be a salad of roasted chicken and vegetables topped with nuts. A typical dinner might be braised pork and a large salad containing vegetables and pumpkin seeds. Fruit or nuts could serve as snacks.
Pre-Maintenance, the third phase of the Atkins diet, begins when you're within 10 pounds of your target weight. During Pre-Maintenance, dieters increase their daily carbohydrate intake by 10 grams a week by adding in foods like starchy vegetables, beans and legumes, grains like brown rice and oatmeal and fruits such as bananas and apples. For breakfast during phase 3, you might have eggs scrambled with bacon, cheese and asparagus along with fresh red grapes. Lunch might be a pork sausage with cooked spaghetti squash and dinner could include steak sauteed with bell peppers, onions, black beans and salsa along with mixed greens and vegetables.
Dieters enter the final phase of the Atkins diet after they've reached their weight loss goal and have maintained that weight for one month. The foods allowed in phase 4 are the same as those in phase 3. The focus now is on avoiding regaining weight by keeping carbohydrate intake controlled. If you begin to put on weight, you're instructed to decrease your carbohydrate intake by 10 grams. During this Lifetime Maintenance phase, your breakfast might be half of a grapefruit paired with eggs topped with shredded cheese, and lunch might be grilled chicken on top of a green salad containing corn, beans and peppers. For dinner, you might eat steak with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. As with all the other phases, you might have an Atkins product as a snack.