The first phase of the Atkins diet restricts carb intake so that the body burns more stored fat.
The Atkins diet is a low-carb nutrition plan designed to aid in weight loss and promote overall health. The Atkins system uses four phases; the first, called induction, severely restricts carbs. The idea behind the first phase is to kick-start weight loss. The Atkins website uses two weeks as a guideline for phase one; however, you can choose to remain in phase one longer.
Burn Fat Instead of Carbs
The objective behind the first phase of the Atkins diet is to shift the body from primarily burning carbohydrates to primarily burning stored body fat. By doing this, you can lose as much as 15 pounds in the first two weeks, the website claims. Two weeks is the minimum for phase one; however, you can safely follow this phase for much longer if you prefer to lose weight more quickly. In phase one, you restrict carb intake to an average of 20 net carbs per day.
Understanding Net Carbs
The Atkins diet uses net carbs to measure carb count rather than ordinary carbohydrates. Net carbs are the total carbohydrates minus the amount of fiber the food contains. Of your total net carb allowance, the majority of these -- 12 to 15 grams -- should come from vegetables. Many vegetables have few net carbs, because they contain higher concentrations of fiber than many other foods. In addition to restricted carbohydrate intake, phase one guidelines include eating sufficient protein at each meal while not restricting dietary fats, because they're essential to slimming down on the Atkins, and consuming at least eight glasses of water each day.
Phase One Foods
The foods you can eat during phase one include all fish, all fowl, all shellfish, all meat, eggs in any style, certain cheeses, vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates, fats and oils, artificial sweeteners and beverages with few or no calories. Types of cheese allowed include blue, cheddar, feta, cream cheese, Gouda, mozzarella, Parmesan and Swiss. Although a wide variety of vegetables are OK, some of the lowest net carb options include alfalfa sprouts, celery, bok choy, arugula, cucumber, peppers, mushrooms, romaine lettuce, radishes and jicama.
If you're motivated to continue with speedy weight loss, you can continue phase one; however, three additional phases exist, which introduce additional carbohydrates, such as nuts, fruits and whole wheat grains. The Atkins website recommends transitioning into phase two of the program, called "balancing," when you're within 15 pounds of your ideal weight. If you decide to move on after two weeks, you can utilize phase two to lose the majority of your excess weight. From phase two, you can increase your net carb intake in 5-gram increments until you're able to steadily maintain your goal weight.