Atkins Diet Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is the Atkins diet?
It is a diet that, in the beginning, eliminates almost all carbohydrates
from your diet. Doing this causes your body to go into ketosis, and burn stored
body fat, causing you to lose weight.
What types of foods have
carbohydrates in them?
that contain sugar and starches, such as bread, pasta. Potatoes,
desserts, candy bars, pies, cakes, etc.
Am I allowed any carbohydrates on the Atkins diet?
Most people limit their carbohydrate intake to less than 20
grams a day during the initial phase of the diet, usually
referred to as the Induction Phase.
How long do I stay on the Induction Phase of the diet?
Most people stay on the Induction Phase of the diet for the
first two weeks. This will give your body time to adjust to a
lower level of carbohydrate intake and, in turn, help you to
break any cravings you may have for carbohydrates.
What can I expect from the first two weeks of the diet?
A great deal of
people report increased energy levels, and some, for the first
time in their life, experience stable blood sugar levels. You
will initially lose a lot of "water weight" since carbohydrates
absorb water in your body. Since you will have a small amount of
carbohydrates in your body, that excess water will be expelled.
You can expect to lose 5-25 pounds during the first two weeks.
What kinds of foods can I eat on the Atkins diet?
You can eat all
meats, cheeses, some vegetables, and eggs.
Is it true that you don't count calories on this diet?
Yes, it is not
necessary to count calories. Most people however eat close to
the same calories or even less on this diet than before they
began. Since this diet is higher in fat, than a typical diet,
your body tends to feel full quicker. The policy on this diet is
"If you are hungry then eat"! There are a number of people who
still count calories as a gauge. Some want to make sure they are
not over eating (which is hard to do on this diet), while others
are rarely hungry and they want to be sure they are getting
enough calories to be healthy. The key to this diet is the total
number of carbohydrates you are eating, not fat, protein, or
What are Ketostix, and where do I get them?
Ketostix are litmus-type strips that will help you determine if you are in
ketosis. If they change color (somewhere between pink and purple) you are in
Ketosis. The strips can be purchased at most drug stores. You may need to ask
the pharmacist. The sticks were developed for testing Type 1 diabetics. A supply
of 50 usually costs about $11-13.
Do I need to buy Ketostix?
No it is not
necessary to buy Ketostix. However, one of the keys to the
diet is being in ketosis. To be able to confirm ketosis is always a moral lift.
Also, when switching to the Ongoing Weight Loss and Maintenance parts of the
diet where you start to increase your carbohydrate intake, the Ketostix will be
able to help you determine where your tolerance level for carbohydrates is.
Being able to actually see that you are indeed, in ketosis, usually helps people
tremendously, and gives them that extra edge in pursuing their weight-loss
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is the term
used when your body cannot fully metabolize fat due to a lack of
carbohydrates in your system. The unused portions of the fat
cells are called ketones, and are removed from the body in the urine. Ketosis is a signal
that you are burning stored body fat.
Do I need to drink water, and how much water should I be drinking?
It is important to
drink a lot of water. As your body breaks down fat, it is
important to flush the unused ketones from your body. A general rule of thumb
is 64 oz. plus 8 oz. for every 25 lbs. of weight you want to lose. Another
approximation is to divide you body weight in half. Both methods of determining
the amount of water to drink will make sure you are drinking enough. However, if
you are thirsty, or not sure if you are drinking enough water, then you are
probably not. Drink more. You can't drink too much water.
What is the Induction Diet?
The Induction diet
is just a small part of the full Atkins diet, and this is the
part of the diet that most people follow during the first two
weeks of the diet. It's intended to rid your body of all
unnecessary carbohydrates, and help you get fully into ketosis.
You also will lose weight the fastest during this part of the
diet. The Induction diet is two weeks of eating less than 20
grams of carbohydrates a day. It is recommended that you use
vitamin supplements, especially during this phase of the diet.
What is the Ongoing Weight Loss Diet?
The ongoing Weight
Loss Diet or OWL, is used following the two week induction diet.
It allows you to increase your carbohydrate consumption to a
level that still keeps you in ketosis. The number of
carbohydrates allowed depends on the individual. Ketostix will help you monitor you body to see if you
have fallen out of ketosis. If you have, then you must reduce your carbohydrate
consumption. This will help you to establish a guideline for the number of
carbohydrates that you can eat each day, and still lose weight.
What are the Maintenance and Pre-Maintenance Diets?
diet is started usually when a person comes within 10lbs. of
their goal weight. It is the diet that allows you to slowly
increase your carb consumption until you are no longer losing weight. The idea is to
reach this level of carbohydrates as you reach your goal weight. The lifetime maintenance
diet is what you are on for the rest of you life. During the pre-maintenance
diet, you found where you ideal carbohydrate intake is. That is how many carbs
you are allowed during the lifetime maintenance diet. Part of the maintenance diet is to
also monitor your current weight. Our bodies change over time, and your
tolerance level for carbohydrates may also change causing you to lose or gain
weight. If you lose weight, you can always increase your carb intake. If you
gain weight (5 lbs or more from your ideal weight), then it is time to go back
onto the Induction diet, where you can easily lose the weight in a week or two.
The nice part of the lifetime maintenance diet is that you can cheat from the diet (in
moderation), and if you gain some weight, you know you will lose it rather
What kind of snacks can I have?
Following are a list
of some foods that you may have as snacks: string cheese,
pepperoni slices, celery with cream cheese, celery with a bit of
peanut butter, almonds, macadamia nuts, deviled eggs/egg salad,
veggies w/ Ranch dressing sugar-free Jello, Slim Jims, hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, pork rinds, bacon,
pepperoni, cheese chips, meats, tuna salad and mayo, vegetables, make a veggie
tray with ranch or blue cheese dip, protein shakes with heavy cream, root beer
floats (diet root beer with some whipping cream) or orange soda, meat/cheese
Can I do this diet while pregnant or breast-feeding?
You cannot be in
ketosis while pregnant or breastfeeding because of the release
of ketones and their potential effect on the fetus or the baby. However,
you can eat a diet lower in carbs and higher in protein that the average
American diet (with plenty of veggies and some lower-carb fruits). You should
work with your physician and/or a holistic nutritionist to determine the food
plan that is best for you and your baby while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Can I drink alcohol on the diet?
After induction, you
can see if it affects your loss to drink a limited amount of
alcohol - but drink it sparingly, only on special occasions,
etc. Essentially all hard liquors are fine, as long as you mix
them with low-carb
mixers like diet Coke or club soda. A limited amount of dry red wine is okay for
most people, and when it comes to beer, Miller Lite (3 grams/carbs) is a good
Will I ever eat bread, potatoes, or pasta again?
This diet does not
allow for bread or potatoes on a regular basis. However, the
longer you go without eating these things, the more you will
find that you don't miss them. You can make "legal"
substitutions - there are recipes for low-carb
"breads" and there are low-carb tortillas on the market. You can substitute
cauliflower cooked different ways for potatoes. Spaghetti squash is a low-carb
option that is great with a some butter and parmesan cheese as an alternative to
pasta. Once they are on maintenance, some people may try to eat very small
portions of lower-carb, non-refined versions of some of these foods (e.g. -
whole-grain bread or whole-wheat pasta). Some people do fine with that, but
others find that eating the foods in even limited amounts sets of carb cravings
that can lead to binges.
What happens if I cheat on the diet?
It's not a big deal
to cheat on most diets, but it could be the kiss of death on
this diet. Since you need to maintain low carbohydrate
consumption to go into ketosis, going off the diet and consuming
a significant amount of carbs
could mean that you have to start the diet all over again.
If I'm craving sweets, what can I have?
There are many
sweets you can have if you are craving them. One popular low-carb treat is sugar-free Jello, which is great topped with real whipped
cream. Sugar-free Jello also tastes great frozen for a couple of hours - almost
like Italian ice. You can also have diet hot chocolate for about 4-5 g/carbs a
packet. Splenda, a sugar substitute, tastes almost exactly like sugar and has
only 1 g of carbs a packet. You can order it at www.splenda.com. There are lots
of recipes you can make with Splenda, including cheesecake, peanut butter
Can I have caffeine?
an overproduction of insulin, which ultimately promotes weight
gain. The biggest need is to stop a caffeine addiction. Once you
go 2 weeks without caffeine, you may have it again as long as
you don't become dependent on it for energy.
Can a vegetarian be on the Atkins Diet?
Animal proteins are
a vital component of the Atkins Diet and the diet cannot be done
as successfully without them. They contain many essential fatty
acids that cannot be found in any other sources. A vegan cannot
be on the Atkins Diet. A pure vegan diet could never be low
enough in carbohydrates, because there are no plants that are
Can I have cough syrup?
Most over-the-counter suppressants and
cough drops do contain sugar. These can inhibit your weight loss. However,
ask your pharmacist about sugar-free, alcohol-free cough suppressants these
Why do I have bad breath?
Bad breath is from
the production of ketones as you burn body fat and is a good
sign that the diet is working. Ketone production is necessary
for continuing weight loss. You may use chlorophyll (must be
sugarless), eat more parsley and dark green, leafy vegetables,
and be sure that your water intake is at least 8 or more glasses
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