Atkins Diet FAQ

Here you can find answers to questions about how the board works. Use the links or search box below to find your way around.

What are the Rules of Induction?

This phase of the Atkins Nutritional Approach must be followed precisely to achieve success. If you do it at all incorrectly you may prevent weight loss and end up saying, "Here is another weight-loss plan that didn't work." Also, check out "Extra Cautions" below.

Memorize the following rules as though your life depends upon it. In fact, it does.

1. Eat either three regular-size meals a day or four or five smaller meals. Do not skip meals or go more than six waking hours without eating.

2. Eat liberally of combinations of fat and protein in the form of poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs and red meat, as well as pure, natural fat in the form of butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, safflower, sunflower and other vegetable oils (preferably expeller-pressed or cold-pressed).

3. Eat no more than 20 grams a day of carbohydrate, most of which must come in the form of salad greens and other vegetables. You can eat approximately three loosely packed cups of salad, or two cups of salad plus one cup of other vegetables (see Acceptable Foods).

4. Eat absolutely no fruit, bread, pasta, grains, starchy vegetables or dairy products other than cheese, cream or butter. Do not eat nuts or seeds in the first two weeks. Foods that combine protein and carbohydrates, such as chickpeas, kidney beans and other legumes, are not permitted at this time.

5. Eat nothing that isn't on the Acceptable Foods list. And that means absolutely nothing. Your "just this one taste won't hurt" rationalization is the kiss of failure during this phase of Atkins.

6. Adjust the quantity you eat to suit your appetite, especially as it decreases. When you're hungry, eat the amount that makes you feel satisfied, but not stuffed. When you're not hungry, eat a small controlled carbohydrate snack to accompany your nutritional supplements.

7. Don't assume any food is low in carbohydrate instead, read labels. Check the carb count (it's on every package) or use a carbohydrate gram counter.

8. Eat out as often as you wish but be on guard for hidden carbs in gravies, sauces and dressings. Gravy is often made with flour or cornstarch, and sugar is sometimes an ingredient in salad dressing.

9. Avoid foods or drinks sweetened with aspartame. Instead, use sucralose or saccharin. Be sure to count each packet of any of these as 1 gram of carbs.

10. Avoid coffee, tea and soft drinks that contain caffeine. Excessive caffeine has been shown to cause low blood sugar, which can make you crave sugar.

11. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day to hydrate your body, avoid constipation and flush out the by-products of burning fat.

12. If you are constipated, mix a tablespoon or more of psyllium husks in a cup or more of water and drink daily. Or mix ground flaxseed into a shake or sprinkle wheat bran on a salad or vegetables.

13. At a minimum, take a good daily multivitamin with minerals, including potassium, magnesium and calcium, but without iron.

Extra Cautions:

Stay away from diet products unless they specifically state "no carbohydrates." Most such foods are for low-fat diets, not controlled carbohydrate plans.

The words sugarless, sugar-free or "no sugar added" are not sufficient. The label must state the carbohydrate content; that's what you must go by.

Many products you do not normally think of as foods, such as chewing gum, breath mints, cough syrups and cough drops, are filled with sugar or other caloric sweeteners. They must be avoided.

Be wary of prepared salads at salad bars or deli counters. For example, cole slaw or even tuna-fish salad may have been prepared with sugar.


What foods can be eaten on Induction?

These are the foods you may eat liberally during Induction:

all fish, all fowl, all shellfish, all meat, all eggs

*Oysters and mussels are higher in carbs than other shellfish, so limit them to four ounces per day.

**Processed meats, such as ham, bacon, pepperoni, salami, hot dogs and other luncheon meats and some fish may be cured with added sugar and will contribute carbs. Try to avoid meat and fish products cured with nitrates, which are known carcinogens. Also beware of products that are not exclusively meat, fish or fowl, such as imitation fish, meatloaf and breaded foods. Finally, do not consume more than four ounces of organ meats a day.



You can consume three to four ounces daily of the following full-fat, firm, soft and semi-soft aged cheeses*, including: cheddar

cow, sheep and goat cheese

cream cheese



Roquefort and other blue cheeses


*All cheeses have some carbohydrate content. The quantity you eat should be governed by that knowledge. The rule of thumb is to count 1 ounce of cheese as equivalent to 1 gram of carbohydrate. Note that cottage cheese, farmer's cheese and other fresh cheeses are not permitted during Induction. No "diet" cheese, cheese spreads or whey cheeses are permitted. Individuals with known yeast symptoms, dairy allergy or cheese intolerance must avoid cheese. Imitation cheese products are not allowed, except for soy or rice cheese but check the carbohydrate content.

Salad Vegetables

You can have two to three cups per day of:

alfalfa sprouts


bok choy

















romaine lettuce


These salad vegetables are high in phytonutrients and provide a good source of fiber.

Other Vegetables

You can have one cup per day of these veggies if salad does not exceed two cups. The following vegetables are slightly higher in carbohydrate content than the salad vegetables:


artichoke hearts


bamboo shoots

bean sprouts

beet greens


broccoli rabe

Brussels sprouts



celery root


collard greens

dandelion greens


hearts of palm










snow peas

spaghetti squash


string or wax beans

summer squash



water chestnuts


If a vegetable, such as spinach or tomato, cooks down significantly, it must be measured raw so as not to underestimate its carb count.

Salad Garnishes

crumbled crisp bacon

grated cheese

minced hard-boiled egg

sauted mushrooms

sour cream


All spices to taste, but make sure none contain added sugar.





cayenne pepper









For salad dressing, use oil and vinegar (but not balsamic vinegar, which contains sugar) or lemon juice and herbs and spices. Prepared salad dressings without added sugar and no more than two carbs per tablespoon serving are also fine.

Acceptable Fats and Oils

Many fats, especially certain oils, are essential to good nutrition. Olive oil is particularly valuable. All other vegetable oils are allowed, the best being canola, walnut, soybean, grapeseed, sesame, sunflower and safflower oils, especially if they are labeled "cold-pressed" or "expeller-pressed." Do not cook polyunsaturated oils, such as corn, soybean and sunflower oil, at high temperatures or allow to brown or smoke.

Butter is allowed. Margarine should be avoided, not because of its carbohydrate content, but because it is usually made of trans fats (hydrogenated oils), which are a serious health hazard. (Some nonhydrogenated margarines are available in health-food stores.)

You don't have to remove the skin and fat from meat or fowl. Salmon and other cold-water fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Remember that trying to do a low-fat version of the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM will interfere with fat burning and derail your weight loss.

Artificial Sweeteners

You must determine which artificial sweeteners agree with you, but the following are allowed: sucralose (marketed as Splenda), saccharin, cyclamate and acesulfame-K. Natural sweeteners ending in the suffix "-ose," such as maltose, fructose, etc., should be avoided. However, certain sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, do not affect blood sugar and are acceptable.

Saccharin has been extensively studied, and harmful effects were produced in the lab when fed to rats only in extremely high doses. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has removed saccharin from its list of carcinogens, basing its decision upon a thorough review of the medical literature and the National Institute of Science's statement that there is "no clear association between saccharin and human cancer." It can be safely consumed in moderation, meaning no more than three packets a day. Saccharin is marketed as Sweet'n Low.

We discourage the use of aspartame (marketed as NutraSweet and Equal) because of clinical observations that it slows weight loss in certain individuals. The FDA has approved the herb stevia for use only as a supplement, not as a sweetener.

The Atkins preference, however, is sucralose (Splenda), the only sweetener made from sugar. Sucralose is safe, noncaloric and does not raise blood sugar. It has been used in Canada for years, and the FDA recently approved it after reviewing more than 100 studies conducted over the past 20 years. Note that each packet of sugar substitute contains about 1 gram of carbohydrate, so don't forget to include the amount in your daily totals.

Acceptable Beverages

Be sure to drink a minimum of eight eight-ounce glasses of water each day, including:

Filtered water

Mineral water

Spring water

Tap water

Additionally, you can have the following:

Clear broth/bouillon (not all brands; read the label)

Club soda

Cream, heavy or light (limit to two to three tablespoons a day; note carbohydrate content)

Decaffeinated coffee or tea*

Diet soda made with sucralose (Splenda); be sure to count the carbs

Essence-flavored seltzer (must say "no calories" and should not contain aspartame)

Herb tea (without barley or any fruit sugar added)

Lemon juice or lime juice (note that each contains 2.8 grams carbohydrate per ounce); limit to two to three tablespoons

*Excessive caffeine may cause unstable blood sugar and should be avoided by those who suspect they are caffeine dependent. Everyone should try to avoid caffeine. Grain beverages (coffee substitutes) are not allowed. Alcoholic beverages are also not permitted during Induction; those low in carbohydrates are an option, in moderation, in later phases.

Special Category Foods

To add variety, each day you can also eat 10 to 20 olives, half a small avocado, an ounce of sour cream or three ounces of unsweetened heavy cream, as well as two to three tablespoons of lemon juice or lime juice. But be aware that these foods occasionally slow down weight loss in some people, and may need to be avoided in the first two weeks. If you seem to be losing slowly, moderate your intake of these foods.

Convenience Foods

Although it is important that you eat primarily unprocessed foods, some controlled carb food products can come in handy when you are unable to find appropriate food, can't take time for a meal or need a quick snack. More and more companies are creating healthy food products that can be eaten during the Induction phase of Atkins. Just remember two things:

Not all convenience food products are the same, so check labels and carbohydrate content.

While any of these foods can make doing Atkins easier, don't overdo it. Remember, you must always follow The Rules of Induction.

What are net carbs?

Originally posted by not2late.


Net carbs represent the carbs that affect your blood sugar and are therefore counted. They are calculated thusly:

NET Carbs = Total Carbs - Fiber grams- (sugar alcohols*)

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate (see Ch. 8 DANDR 2002 for a complete explanation of fiber) which has little effect on blood sugar, so it is subtracted from the Total carb amount.

*Sugar alcohols, or polyols, are a controversial topic in low carbing. They are artificial sweeteners that mimic the baking qualities of sugar. They supposedly have little effect on the blood sugar too, which leads some low carb product manufacturers to subtract these substances from the Total carbs. However, some low carbers experience weight loss stalls or slow downs when using these products. Not to mention sugar alcohols are notorious for causing diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and gassy discomfort.

Due to the effects on weight loss, some low carbers will either subtract

How are net carbs listed of European/International labels?

Originally posted by Georgiana.

The carbohydrates listed on European and most international labels are net carbs, not total carbs. This means that dietary fibre was already deducted and the carbohydrates on the label are the net carbs or, in other words, "the carbs that count when you do Atkins", as per DANDR 2002 (Chapter 8, "The Complexities of Carbohydrates").

For an example, let's look at the carbohydrates in NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Latte Macchiato. 100 grams of powder contain 46.9 grams of carbohydrate (out of which 44.3 grams are sugar) and 3.2 grams of fibre. The net carbs, i.e. the carbs those of us who follow Atkins should count, are the 46.9 grams, NOT 43.7 grams (46.9 minus 3.2).

Below is another example for our members in the UK. Spinach and ricotta pizza from Sainsbury's.

Food label for Sainsbury's Spinach and Ricotta Pizza

In 100 grams, this pizza has 28.7 grams of carbohydrate and 2.3 grams of fibre, which means that those of us who do Atkins should count 28.7 net carbs if eating 100 grams of it.

A problem following from this different labelling style appears when someone uses tools like FitDay to track their meals. FitDay and most other online tools list foods in the way they are labelled in the US (where fibre is included in the carbohydrate count) and therefore expects you to do the same when entering a custom food.

Let's say you want to add the pizza above to your custom foods list in FitDay. To do this, first click on the "Create a Custom Food" option appearing in the left sidebar. You will then be asked to fill in a form with several entries. For the pizza, what you would have to enter if you want to use the 100 grams serving size is (leave unknown info set to zero):

Name: Sainsbury's Spinach and Ricotta Pizza (100 g)
Amount: 1 serving

Calories: 238
Fat: 9.6 g
Saturated Fat: 3.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 400 mg
Potassium: 0.0 mg
Carbohydrate: 31.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 9.3 g
Alcohol: 0.0 g

On some European labels, fibre is not listed at all. For example:

German food label

In this case, you don't know the total carbohydrate content of the food in question, only its net carbs. If you wanted to add this food in FitDay as a custom entry, the way you would have to do it is by entering the carbohydrates (Kohlenhydrate) on the label as total carbohydrates (in the "Carbohydrate" field) and setting fibre to zero (in the "Dietary Fiber" field).

How can I track my foods?

One way to calculate net carbs is to write down the foods you eat in a food journal and look up net carbs for individual foods. A reliable source for nutritional information is the USDA database.

Once you know the grams of carbohydrate and dietary fiber in a food, you calculate the net carbs by simply subtracting fiber from carbohydrate.

An alternative to having a food journal is to use one of the many food tracking tools available online. Two of the most popular ones are FitDay and Fat Secret.

FitDay displays total carbohydrate and dietary fiber, so you will need to do the math yourself to figure out net carbs. You can find the total carbohydrate and dietary fiber for the day next to the pie chart at the bottom of the page; it looks something like this:

FitDay pie chart

FitDay PC, although not a free tool, can calculate net carbs.

Unlike the online version of FitDay, Fat Secret is able to calculate net carbs.

Another good (and free) online tool is Nutrition Data, which provides more information about foods than that available in FitDay, Fat Secret or the USDA database. Nutrition Data uses the USDA database, so it is accurate.

Below are links to other online tools:

The Daily Plate

Calorie King


How much fat do I need to eat?

Originally posted by not2late.

During Atkins Induction, we receive 65% of our total daily calories from fat, 30% from protein and 5% from carbs.

All animal protein contains fat. That fat is figured into the 65% fat calories for the day. "Lean" meats contain fat. Per, 3 ounces of a broiled, boneless, skinless chicken breast contains 2.97 grams of fat.

Here's a example of a meal of chicken breast and 1 cup of green beans with a tablespoon of butter.

4 oz broiled boneless skinless chicken breast: fat grams = 3.97 grams, calories from fat = 35.6
1 cup green beans: fat grams = 0.132 grams, calories from fat =1.19
1 tablespoon butter: fat grams = 11.52 grams, calories from fat = 1.03
For this meal, fat makes up 45% of the total calories.

2 tablespoons of mayo has 21.9 grams of fat, and 197 calories from fat.

If you add 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise to this meal, the fat calories are up to 67%. In fact, the fat/protein/carb ratio for this meal is 67/29/4 which is pretty close to the 65/30/5 ratio.

How much is 2 tablespoons? It's not a large quantity at all. If you use standard cooking measures, 2 tablespoons is roughly the size of 2 tea bags. Many of us don't measure properly to begin with and probably stick a spoon in a jar and scoop out a "heaping" tablespoon. A "heaping" spoon is usually estimated as twice the spoon size. In other words, a heaping teaspoon is about 2 properly measured teaspoons and a heaping tablespoon is about 2 properly measured tablespoons.

You don't need to "drown" your food in mayonnaise, olive oil or butter to do Atkins properly---especially if you eat higher fat proteins.

Let's look at this meal of 4 ounces broiled skinless chicken thighs and 1 cup of green beans with 1 tablespoon butter.

4 ounces broiled skinless chicken thighs: fat = 12 grams, calories from fat = 135
1 cup green beans: fat grams = 0.132 grams, calories from fat =1.19
1 tablespoon butter: fat grams = 11.52 grams, calories from fat = 1.03

For this meal, the fat makes up about 60% of the total calories. In other words, you don't need to add anymore fat to this meal. And if you wanted to anyway, you wouldn't need to add 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, oil or butter.

I hope this helps everyone get a better idea of the amount of fat you need to add to any particular meal.

By the way, the ratios are for the daily total calories. So you don't have to make the ratios for every meal/snack you eat.

What counts as water?

The article below was published in the December 2003 issue of the Atkins Newsletter.


Navigating Water
Janet Cappiello Blake

Add drinking more water to your list of New Year

Day 15: Should I stay or should I go?

Originally posted by not2late.

Congrats on getting through your 14 day Induction.

Now it's time to make some decisions. But first, re-read Chapters 12-14 of DANDR 2002. These Chapters will discuss very important things such as the your degree of Metabolic Resistance to Weight Loss, the Blood Sugar Symptom Test, and the Four Questions.

To review quickly, the first 14 days of this diet are extremely important to do correctly because the results you get will help you to determine your rate of metabolic resistance to weight loss. That, in turn, allows you to gage how easily you will lose weight. For most people with low metabolic resistance, they will lose weight quicker than folks who are extremely metabolically resistant. This is why the Induction mods and old-timers are very persistent about doing a "Clean Induction" and about weighing and measuring yourself before you begin this diet. It's a very important time and it's was too bad, Dr. Atkins saved it until Chapter 12 and 13 to reveal how important it is to this WOE.

Other factors determining when to move on are the amount of weight you need to lose, how happy you are with the limited variety of Induction foods, and your general health issues.

Typically, folks who are very metabolically resistant and/or need to lose alot of weight (over 75 pounds) seem to benefit from extending their Induction. Dr. A. even says in the book it's okay for these folks to do it because they need to correct the metabolic problems they have (which caused them to gain weight in the first place). From what I've observed on ADBB, the folks who have less than 50 pounds to lose generally seem to do better when they move onto OWL immediately after their 14 day Induction or if they stay on Induction for no more than 4 months.

The issue about the Induction foods....If I lost a dress size for every confession post "I ate too many veggies" or "I ate strawberries" or "I ate a fruit salad", I would be so thin you wouldn't even be able to see me! Again, from reading posts in the Extended Induction Forum, I think that there are some very determined folks who can do a cheat free multi-month Induction---2Big, Irish, Nullo and others are examples of them.

For other folks, they can't. That's not to say these folks are "weak" or "not determined", but it's to say that these folks just got bored with the Induction foods and didn't realize they were bored. And that's unfortunate, because on OWL you can eat more carbs (translation: more food) and a greater variety of food so the boredom factor is practically zero.

The other thing I read alot of is a myth that once you move onto OWL your weight loss grinds to a halt. Not true. Some folks in OWL lose 1-3 pounds a week.

My suggestion to anyone who decide to do an Extended Induction is to answer the Four Questions in Chapter 13 every week because your attitude, priorities and perspective of this WOE on day 15 might be vastly different than it is on month 6.

But just keep in mind, no matter when you decide to move from Induction to OWL, the last 5-10 pounds must be spent in Pre-Maintenance according to Dr. Atkins.

How many calories should I eat?

This FAQ was posted on the Atkins Center web page in April 2003.


The Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM counts grams of carbohydrates instead of calories. In Induction, you are allowed 20 grams of Net Carbs. When you progress to Ongoing Weight Loss, you gradually add carbohydrates in 5-gram increments as you move toward Pre-Maintenance, and finally to the Lifetime Maintenance phases of Atkins. Although you do not need to count calories, it is certainly possible to consume too many calories even if your carb intake is on target. If you are losing weight, there is no need to concern yourself with counting calories. However, if you are unable to lose weight or actually regain weight lost, one possibility is that you are taking in more calories than you expend through exercise, thermogenesis (the body's own heat production) and other metabolic functions.

Research has shown that on a controlled carbohydrate program, more calories are burned than on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, so there is a certain metabolic advantage to the controlled carb approach. But understand that this does not give you a license to gorge.

If you are used to counting calories and are more comfortable with such an approach, the general rule of thumb is to multiply your present weight by 10 to 12 to get the daily caloric range at which you would lose weight. For example a 150-pound woman who consumes 1,500 to 1,800 calories daily should continue to lose weight.

The real goal of the Atkins program is to learn eating habits that will enable you to permanently maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. This includes changing old habits such as overeating that contributed to your original weight problem.

Who should do the Fat Fast?

Originally posted by not2late.

In DANDR 2002, Dr. Atkins wrote that the Fat Fast is for the people who are severely resistant to weight loss. It's not to "speed up" the rate of your loss because you believe you are losing too slowly.

According to Dr. Atkins you can be severely metabolically resistant to weight loss for a number of reasons. But you have to rule out any weight loss "stallers" that can be reversed or alleviated.

Before considering doing the Fat Fast:

1. Did you follow the book exactly during Induction and still didn't lose any weight?

In other words, did you only eat what was listed on the Induction Acceptable Foods list, followed the rules of Induction, exercised as recommended in the book, took your vitamin supplements, etc. ? If you didn't do any or all of these things, your lack of weight loss might not be due to metabolic resistance to weight loss at all and you should really consider doing the diet properly before considering to do the Fat Fast.

2. Did you go to your doctor to have tests done for the following: hyperinsulinism, thyroid problems, and yeast overgrowth?

If any of these things apply to you, then your doctor should be able to give you treatments to help you with these problems and once these problems are solved your weight loss, typically, will improve.

3. Are you on any medications that can interfere with your weight loss?

Dr. Atkins cites anti-arthritis medications, steroids, hormones (birth control pills, HRTs), anti-depressants, diuretics and beta-blockers as some of the medications that can interfere with weight loss. If you are on any of these medications, you should sit down with your doctor and try to figure out if any alternatives can be given to you instead.

If you have gone through this list and have ruled out these things with your doctor, then Fat Fast might be an option for you.

Fat Fast isn't for you if:

1. You "cheated" through your Induction phase by not strictly following the Rules and/or eating foods not on the Acceptable Foods List or not in the quantities allowed during Induction. Those "sneaks", "cheats", and "one bites" can severely derail weight loss in some people.

2. You didn't cheat through the first 14 days of Induction and you do not have high metabolic resistant according to the charts in Chapter 13.

3. You are losing weight and want to "break a stall".

4. You want to "speed up your metabolism" to lose weight faster.

5. You want to lose weight faster.

Can I have an occasional cheat?

Originally posted by not2late.

Before you take that one bite


What should my goal weight be?

Originally posted by Labarum.

Making a judgement about your goal weight is not easy. There are many tables and online calulators that offer a theoretical optimum. They can intimidate as well as enlighten.

This is a good place to start:

"ideal weight" calculator

Enter your figures and see what it suggests. This site is good because it offers an acceptable range; and because it offers some sensible advice on what you should weigh.

There are exceptions to these rules:

Don't tell Arnold Scwartznegger he's fat because he doesn't hit the target mark for his height.

All of the British Rugby Team are clinically obese according to the tables, and they are sportsmen of international status playing a game as tough as American Football.

But do be realistic - most of us are normal, and the normal range targets will be about right for almost all of us.

You may choose to set yourself an achievable target right at the top end of acceptable, then review it when you see how effective a properly conducted Atkins programme can be. You may also want to set yourself staging posts on the way, then you can pat yourself on the back as you reach them.

Good luck, and do remember there are lots of folk on this board to offer you advice and encouragement.

Can I do Atkins while pregnant or nursing?

Originally posted by Marigold.

If you are PREGNANT:
You may do the Lifetime Maintenance Phase of Atkins, but you may not do ANY of the weight-loss phases of Atkins. (Dr.Atkins New Diet Revolution 2002 edition page 107)

If you are NURSING:
You may do the Lifetime Maintenance Phase of Atkins, but you may not do ANY of the weight-loss phases of Atkins. (DANDR p107)

The weightloss phases of the Atkins Nutritional Approach are not appropriate for pregnant women and nursing mothers. (DANDR p120)

Nursing mothers are advised to speak to their doctor about an appropriate meal plan. You and your doctor may be able to come up with a program that is both safe and effective for you and your nursing baby.

I have not found any specific reference to this on or DANDR. However, since Dr. Atkins advises against using any of the weightloss phases during both pregnancy or lactation, women would be well advised to refrain from losing weight while trying to conceive. Because a woman may be pregnant for a length of time and not know it, it is sensible to treat her body as if she were pregnant, and that means not trying to lose weight. Lifetime Maintenance is appropriate for such a time. I am aware there are some fertility medical conditions (such as PCOS) for which a doctor may recommend a low-carbohydrate diet as treatment, but that is only under the supervision of a physician.

It is not recommended to try to lose weight during pregnancy and lactation, and this is not just pertaining to Atkins---it means ANY method. This is common knowledge medically speaking, there are no safe ways to intentionally lose weight during these times without the consent and supervision of your doctor.

This is not medical advice! If you are pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive, you should talk to your doctor to find an appropriate eating plan for your specific condition.

After you are finished with nursing and with your doctor's clearance, come back to Atkins and get back with it. Many women successfully lose the baby weight and get right back on the Atkins wagon, and you can, too!

Is the "yogurt exception" true?

The following was sent to the Atkins Center:

"I have heard different opinions on whether or not yogurt is allowed on the Atkins diet, what kind is allowed and how to count the carbs (see

Some Atkins followers on several forums indicate that eating whole milk yogurt has definitely helped in their weight loss.

Just wondering what your opinion is on this...can we eat yogurt? Is it true about the "eating" of lactose so in fact carb counts are lower than indicated? Any suggestions on the best kind of yogurt to eat?"

And they replied:

Unfortunately, that is not true. The cultures break down lactose to glucose and galactose which allow those who are lactose intolerant to eat yogurt without discomfort. However, the full amount of sugar is still available. Yogurt along with most dairy products contain a relatively large amount of carbs. Cheese is used because the portion consumed is usually controlled. However, if one eats too much cheese they will exceed their carb levels.

Having said that about the carb count, we do not want to ignore the beneficial effect that the probiotics (beneficial bacteria) have on health. This can be obtained with a probiotic supplement. Our colon restoration formula is a good way to get these friendly bacteria without the carbs. If you really want to eat yogurt, you should select regular unflavored plain yogurt and control your portion size. You should include the carb count in your total daily intake and budget for it.

Can I drink coffee on Atkins?

Originally posted by Perry.

From Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution (2002), Chapter 11:

"Excessive caffeine may cause unstable blood sugar and should be avoided by those who suspect they are caffeine dependent. Everyone should try to avoid caffeine."

Caffeine comes in many forms! Not just coffee......tea, chocolate and many soda pops.

Here are some examples:

coffee . . . . 6 ounce cup approx 100 mg
tea . . . . . . 6 ounce cup approx. 70 mg
sodas . . . . . 6 ounce cup approx. 50 mg
Anacin . . . . 1 tablet . . . . . . . . . 32 mg

If you sit down and calculate your caffeine consumption during a typical day, you may be surprised. 250 mgs of caffeine is considered safe and on a whole average. Over 400 mg is considered heavy consumption. The following show caffeine content in popular drinks:

Caffeine content in popular drinks.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is known medically as trimethylxanthine, and the chemical formula is C8H10N4O2 (see this page for an image of the molecular structure). When isolated in pure form, caffeine is a white crystalline powder that tastes very bitter. The chief source of pure caffeine is the process of decaffeinating coffee and tea.

Medically, caffeine is useful as a cardiac stimulant and also as a mild diuretic (it increases urine production). Recreationally, it is used to provide a "boost of energy" or a feeling of heightened alertness. It's often used to stay awake longer -- college students and drivers use it to stay awake late into the night. Many people feel as though they "cannot function" in the morning without a cup of coffee to provide caffeine and the boost it gives them.

Caffeine is an addictive drug. Among its many actions, it operates using the same mechanisms that amphetamines, cocaine and heroin use to stimulate the brain. On a spectrum, caffeine's effects are more mild than amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, but it is manipulating the same channels, and that is one of the things that gives caffeine its addictive qualities. If you feel like you cannot function without it and must consume it every day, then you are addicted to caffeine.

On a personal note:

How will you ever know if caffeine is hindering your weight loss unless you give it up? I gave up coffee/sodas as I was bound and determined to do a clean induction. I never regretted it! I now have returned to having one cup of coffee a few times a week and a soda every once in a while as I have found they do not hinder my weight loss. They do hinder my energy! I have coffee and I know about 4 hours later I will hit a slump. I did it and I learned from it.

This is what some of our members have written:


"Dr. Atkins advises against it because of the insulin response.

I quit coffee for Induction. Was losing about a pound a day until I had a cup of coffee. No loss that day. Started losing again until the next cup. So, we haven't met, but coffee did stop me from losing.

I think the best advice we can give newbies is to follow the book. It was written that way for a reason. I'll share what modifications worked for me (and which didn't), but I make it clear that no one should expect the same results I got."


"Caffeine is known to cause insulin spikes and insulin spikes are known to cause cravings, and cravings lead to binging which of course leads to no weight loss.

The Atkins Center has recently revised it's policy for induction and says that one cup of coffee is now acceptable.

I would say monitor your caffeine very carefully, if you show any slowdown or are not satisfied with your weight loss, that should be the first thing to be cut out.

PS. I was a 20 cup a day person, I drank coffee from sun up to sundown, I never thought it affected me really, but I cut it totally out and I have to say I feel so much better now.

We want to set people up for success, and I think it does more harm than good to say something's not important based solely on the fact that it didn't impede our weight loss. This might be the one shot someone has to finally lose the weight and we're not helping them by giving them misinformation."


"The saga continues with "Return of the Java".

I understand the Atkins website is now saying you can have one cup of regular coffee a day now. ONE CUP! Not a mug that holds 24 ounces! I haven't been over to look so I can't swear to it.

However, I lost an extra five pounds the week I gave up caffeine. I was drinking regular coffee...thanks to my dh not telling me he'd gone back to making regular because he didn't like the decaf. So I went to a yard sale, picked up a second coffee pot and now we each have our own coffee pots. They make single cup pots and 4 cup pots, so it's not like you have to buy a big one.

Anyway, five pounds just melted off that week. So I personally found it to be beneficial to give it up. Now I don't miss it. I get my morning coffee for my drive to work, but it's decaf. Be sure to count the has 1 per cup. Again, not a 24 ounce mug!

You can have coffee and tea, just go decaf. Drink all the water you're supposed to and soon you'll be so "addicted" to it that you'll drink almost nothing else!"


"I was a big-time caffeine addict for 25 years, one of those I-can't-function-without-it types. I knew going into Atkins that the hardest part of induction for me would be giving up my caffeinated coffee. And I was right. Boy was I ever sick for about a week! But after that I felt SO good. I don't have my copy of DANDR with me to jog my memory as to specifics but I do recall caffeine messes with your blood sugar levels.

I was very, very reluctant to give it up but it feels so good to be off the energy/no-energy roller coaster. It's like being freed from slavery or something. I don't know if you're truly addicted to caffeine or if you just like it a lot, but getting away from it is the way to go, no matter how hard it may seem. And if you're like me and go through real bad withdrawals, remember "this too shall pass."

Also, lots and lots of people on this board can testify to the benefits of doing a "clean" Induction (doing it "by the book"). You will get much better results both short-term and long-term. Trust us."

Coffee??? You decide!

What are trans fats and why should I avoid them?

Originally posted by Elleth Faewen.

What Is Trans Fat?

Basically, trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil

Why should I do a "clean" Induction?

Originally posted by Elleth Faewen, using information from Chapter 11 of Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution (2002).

Induction is only the first phase

How long can I stay on Induction?

The longer you consume no more than 20 grams of net carbs daily, the more body fat you will burn. Depending on how much weight you need to lose, you can safely continue with Induction as long as the following three conditions are met:

1. Your blood chemistries, lipid values, blood pressure or blood sugar levels continue to improve or remain stable and within normal limits.

2. You feel well and are experiencing a high energy level, normal sleep patterns and stable moods.

3. You are not bored. Boredom could lead to cheating and undermine your efforts.

However, it is important to understand the entire Atkins Nutritional Approach. The ultimate goal of the program is to advance from the Induction phase through Ongoing Weight Loss and Pre-Maintenance, culminating in Lifetime Maintenance, which should become your permanent way of eating.

By following these steps, you can find your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL), also known as your carbohydrate threshold for losing, and ultimately your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance (CCLM), also known as your carbohydrate threshold for maintaining. Moving from one phase to another will help you maintain a healthful weight, feel good and decrease your risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.

That being said, if you have a great deal of weight to lose, you can certainly stay on Induction for six months or even more. When you switch to Ongoing Weight Loss, your rate of loss will naturally diminish. On the other hand, if you have a modest weight loss goal, say 20 pounds, and lose the first pounds rapidly, it is important to move through the more liberal phases so you can establish the good eating habits that will become part of your ongoing lifestyle and end yo-yo dieting.

What is basal metabolism?

Basal Metabolism Explained

By Regina Schumann Wilshire

When you first start Induction, you're told again and again not to count calories! For the most part, this is good advice. The focus of Induction is to help you put aside the conventional wisdom that you have to count calories, restrict fat intake and limit your food intake to tiny portions if you want to lose weight. The fallacies about each of these recommendations are clearly explained in Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution.

With Atkins, you're told you'll lose weight if you can ignore what you've been told for years and just count your carbohydrate intake. For the majority of people who begin Induction, this simple recommendation works well

What is "Induction flu"?

During the Induction Phase of the Atkins Diet members have been known to complain of symptoms such as weakness, nausea, headaches, and dizziness

OWL: Rules, ladder and tips

Rules of OWL
  • Protein and fat remain the mainstays of your diet.
  • Increase your daily carb intake by no more than 5 net carbs each week.
  • Add new foods in the order listed in the Carbohydrate Ladder (see below).
  • Add one new food group at a time.
  • Eat a food group no more than three times a week to start. Then you may try eating it daily.
  • If new foods cause weight gain, return of the unpleasant physical symptoms lost during Induction, increased appetite or cravings, stop them immediately.
  • Continue OWL until you have 5-10 lbs left to lose.

The Carbohydrate Ladder (the "rungs")

1. More salads and other vegetables on the acceptable foods list
2. Fresh cheeses (as well as more aged cheese)
3. Nuts and seeds
4. Berries
5. Wine and other spirits low in carb
6. Legumes
7. Fruits other than berries and melons
8. Starchy vegetables
9. Whole grains

  • You may skip a rung if you don't want to add back any of the foods in the group.
  • You might not be able to eat foods from all rungs. You need to find the foods that are good for your body.
  • A key to OWL is determining your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL). Your activity level will generally influence your CCLL.
  • Eats berries, other fruits, higher carb vegetables, legumes and grains with some fat and/or protein.

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