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What Can You Eat on the Atkins Diet? The Ultimate Guide

What Can You Eat on the Atkins Diet

In the realm of low-carb diets, the Atkins Diet reigns as a true pioneer. As more individuals seek effective ways to shed pounds and optimize their health, the Atkins approach has remained a time-tested choice. But what can you eat on the Atkins diet?

Let's find out in this comprehensive guide! We'll also delve into the principles, benefits, and intricacies of the Atkins Diet. While it shares common ground with low-carb contemporaries like the ketogenic diet, the Atkins Diet has its own unique nuances that make it worth exploring.

So, whether you're a seasoned low-carb enthusiast or just embarking on your wellness journey, join us on this exploration of the Atkins Diet and discover the transformative potential of controlled carbohydrate consumption.

We’ll also help you decide whether it’s right for you.

Key Takeaways

  • The Atkins diet is a diet plan that involves eating fewer carbs and if you follow the plan, you could be successful at losing weight.
  • In phase 1 of the diet, your focus is on eating low-carb, filling, and delicious foods such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, fats, and low-carb vegetables.
  • In phases 2 and 3 of the diet, you gradually add back some higher-carb foods, based on personal progress and your response to carbs.

What Is the Atkins Diet?

What Is the Atkins Diet

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The Atkins diet was created in the 1960s by Dr. Robert C. Atkins, a cardiologist and physician. He had been observing his patients and found that when they avoided high-carb foods such as fruit, pasta, potatoes, and bread they were able to lose weight easily. In addition, they weren’t left feeling hungry or having to intentionally restrict calories.

Essentially, at least in the beginning, the Atkins diet is a keto diet. In other words, you eat more protein foods and lower your intake of net carbs.

What Is the Basic Principle of the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins Diet is a four-phase lifetime eating plan that helps people achieve permanent weight control with the help of careful consumption of carbohydrates.

This diet also has four core principles:

  • Weight loss: Both men and women who follow the Atkins find they can lose pounds and inches.
  • Weight maintenance: With the Atkins Diet, you feel satisfied with the foods you eat and not feel hungry, a common issue with many other low-fat, low-calorie diets. You’re able to find your optimum level of carb intake and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Good health and well-being: The Atkins Diet helps you meet your nutritional needs by eating wholesome and healthy foods and omitting junk food.
  • Disease prevention: With this individualized controlled-carbohydrate nutritional approach, people at high risk of chronic illnesses experience a marked improvement in their health.

Is Atkins Actually Good for You?

The Atkins Diet may provide some health benefits. As well as helping people lose weight, it’s also been shown to reduce blood pressure and triglyceride levels. It has also been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

For most people, the Atkins Diet is safe. However, because low-carb diets have been known to lower blood pressure and blood sugar, if you’re taking medication for high blood pressure or diabetes, you should discuss any changes in your diet with a medical professional.

Related: What Is Dirty Keto? Clean Keto vs. Dirty Keto

The Atkins Diet: Phases

The Atkins Diet - Phases

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The Atkins Diet is made up of four phases:

  • Phase 1 (Induction): During phase 1, your meals must come from a specific list of foods, mostly consisting of seafood, meat, cheese, and eggs. Carb intake must stay below 20 grams of “net carbs” per day. This is the strict keto diet phase and should be for a minimum of two weeks.
  • Phase 2 (Ongoing weight loss, or OWL): During phase 2 you’re allowed to add back more foods to your diet, five grams of net carbs at a time. You stick with phase 2 until you’re getting close to your goal weight.
  • Phase 3 (Pre-maintenance): At this stage, you can start to experiment with adding back more carbs and fine-tuning your intake of carbs. You stay at this phase until you’ve achieved your weight loss goal.
  • Phase 4 (Maintenance): The goal is to reach phase 4 and follow it for the rest of your life.

You’re eating within the carb range that allows you to maintain your ideal weight.

What Can You Eat on the Atkins Diet Phase 1? (Meal Ideas)

What Can You Eat on the Atkins Diet Phase 1

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During Phase 1, the Induction Phase, your meals should include minimal amounts of carbs. The foods you’re allowed are limited, but you can still enjoy some tasty and filling foods.

During this phase, you should be getting around 10% of your daily calories from carbohydrates. Your intake of carbs should be less than 20 grams of Net Carbs per day. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carbs in a food.

You can eat protein such as fish and shellfish, poultry, meat, eggs, and cheese, at every meal. “Foundation” vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, celery, cucumber, peppers, and green beans, should account for 12 to 15 grams of your daily net carbs.

Foods you don’t have to limit include oils and fats. And food to avoid include most fruits, bread, pastas, grains, nuts, sugary baked goods, or alcohol. In addition, you must drink a minimum of eight glasses of water every day.

What Do You Eat for Breakfast on the Atkins Diet?

  • Egg-filled avocado with prosciutto
  • Baby kale and blue cheese salad with hazelnut dressing
  • Salmon and steamed artichoke with homemade lemon mayonnaise
  • Vegan keto coconut protein shake
  • California breakfast burrito
  • Leek quiche

What Is a Good Lunch on the Atkins diet?

  • Spinach and cheese omelet
  • Spinach or kale salad with cucumbers raw broccoli, and cheese
  • Chicken salad with nuts and a side of cherry tomatoes and cucumbers
  • Blackened salmon filet with a side of cauliflower or Brussel sprouts
  • Turkey with vegetable soup

Atkins Diet: Dinner Ideas

  • Chicken eggplant casserole
  • Keto steaks with green onion and caper sauce
  • Chicken and cheese quesadillas
  • Turkey tacos

And for more tasty and healthy low-carb meal ideas, why not give Cookunity’s keto meal delivery service or vegan keto recipes, crafted with your Atkins dietary needs in mind by top chefs near you? Order now and save time and effort cooking for yourself!

Related: 15 High Protein Meal Prep Ideas to Achieve Your Nutritional Goals

What Can You Eat on the Low-Carb Atkins Diet?

What Can You Eat on the Low-Carb Atkins Diet

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A low-carb diet should include a variety of minimally processed, low-carb foods, including protein sources, non-starchy and preferably high-protein vegetables, and high-fat dairy products.

What Foods Are Allowed on the Atkins Diet?

  • Meat: beef, lamb, chicken, and pork
  • Fish: Tuna, haddock, trout, salmon
  • Eggs
  • Non-starchy vegetables: Tomatoes, asparagus. Carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach
  • Lower-carb fruits: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and oranges
  • Nuts and seeds: Pistachios, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds
  • High-fat dairy: Greek yogurt, heavy cream, butter, and cheese
  • Fats and oils: Coconut pol, olive oil, avocado oil, avocados, and lard

Foods you can eat in moderation include:

  • Starchy vegetables: Corn, peas, yams, sweet potatoes
  • Higher-carb fruits: Mango, pineapple, banana, and many others
  • Whole grains:
  • Quinoa, oats, and brown rice
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, pinto beans,
  • Higher-carb dairy: Full-fat yogurt, and milk

What Can You Not Eat on the Atkins Diet?

When you’re on the Atkins Diet, there are several foods you should avoid or limit. They include sugar and sugary foods, grains, starchy vegetables, fruits with high sugar content, some dairy products, beans, peas, lentils, and processed or refined foods.

Here’s a list of food and drinks that are not allowed:

Foods Not Allowed:

  • Sugary foods: cakes, candies, honey, ice cream, etc.
  • Grains: wheat, spelt, rye, barley, rice
  • Trans fats: hydrogenated oils
  • High-carb fruit & veg: bananas, apples, carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes

Drinks Not Allowed :

  • Regular soda
  • Fruit juice
  • Energy drinks
  • Hot chocolate with sugar
  • Alcohol

Related: Keto No-Go - What Can You Not Eat On Keto?

Atkins vs. Keto: What Is the Difference?

The Atkins and keto diets are two of the most popular and there are similarities and differences between the two.

Similarities Between Atkins & Keto

They are similar in that they are both based on the principle of reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake, with the aim of reducing weight and improving overall health.

Both diets also decrease the number of calories you eat, thereby resulting in weight loss. Many high carb foods, particularly those containing refined carbs, such as sweets, chips, and sugary drinks, are high in calories and may contribute to weight gain.

Both the Atkins and the keto diets require that you remove high-calorie, carb-rich foods, thereby making it easier to cut calories and lose weight.

Keto vs. the Atkins Diet: Differences

The main difference between these two approaches to weight loss is that keto is a moderate protein approach, with around 20% of calories coming from protein, while the Atkins diet allows for up to 30% of calories from protein, depending on the phase.

Another difference is that the goal of the keto diet is to keep your body in ketosis by extremely limiting your carb intake.

The Atkins diet differs in that it involves gradually increasing your carb intake, which results in kicking your body out of ketosis, eventually.

The Atkins diet allows for a wider variety of foods, because of the flexible carb limit. As you move through the phases, you can add more fruits and vegetables and even some grains.

The Atkins diet is less restrictive than keto as you don’t have to monitor ketones or stick to certain macronutrient targets to keep your body in ketosis.

What Is Faster for Weight Loss: Atkins or keto?

In terms of weight loss, the keto diet takes the biscuit. It also keeps your weight steady overall if you can stick to it. While the keto diet is more efficient for losing weight, it’s also incredibly challenging and difficult to stick to.

Atkins 20 vs. Atkins 40 vs. Atkins 100

Atkins 20 vs. Atkins 40 vs. Atkins 100

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There are three distinct types of Atkins diet:

Atkins 20®

This is the original Arkins diet and the original keto diet. Not only is it a low-carb keto diet, it’s also amazingly simple.

The starting point (Phase 1) is twenty grams of net carbs a day. It’s a plan that’s best for those who have more than forty pounds to lose or are diabetic.

Atkins 40®

Atkins 40 is also an easy low-carb diet plan that’s based on portion control. In this case, you limit your eating to 40g net carbs per day.

The Atkins 40 is the best fit for people who have less than 40 pounds to lose, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or want a wider variety of food choices from the first day of the diet.

Atkins 100®

The starting point with Atkins 100 is 100 grams of net carbs a day. It’s the perfect Atkins diet for those who want to maintain their current weight and still enjoy the benefits of a low-carb lifestyle.

Related: What Does a Keto Diet Consist of? Healthy Fats & Low-Carbs

What Can You Eat on the Atkins Diet? FAQs

Q: Is the Atkins diet healthy?

A: The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet that can help you lose weight by burning fat faster. The diet doesn’t leave you hungry, as it’s not based on calorie intake, but on limiting carbs. It can be safe and healthy if you choose whole foods and avoid processed foods.

You should also include healthy fats and carbs, like fish, nuts, olive oil, fruits, and whole grains in your long-term eating plan.

Q: What fruit can you eat on the Atkins diet?

A: You can eat fruit, depending on the phase. For example, in Phase 1, fruit is not allowed as only 20 grams of net carbs are permitted per day. In Phase 2, certain fruits can be added, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, or honeydew melon.

In Phase 3 and Phase 4, you can eat all the fruit that was permitted in Phase 2 and add in most other kinds gradually.

Q: Are potatoes OK on Atkins?

A: Generally, potatoes are not recommended on the Atkins diet. This is because they are a starchy vegetable which can undermine weight-loss and low-carb efforts.

Q: Can I do Atkins as a vegan?

A: Absolutely, yes, you can. The difference is that your protein will come from plant sources such as nuts, beans, soy burgers, soy beverages, tofu, gluten cereals, and vegetable products.


In conclusion, the Atkins Diet offers a flexible and sustainable way to achieve your health and weight goals. By embracing a diet rich in protein, healthy fats, and low-carb vegetables, you can enjoy a wide array of delicious foods while reaping the benefits of weight loss and improved overall wellness.

So, say goodbye to carb cravings and hello to a vibrant, healthier you with the Atkins Diet as your guide.