The Program: Ways to Create a Custom Diet Plan, With Atkins

Choose the Right Phase in Which to Begin

You’ll find many opportunities to customize the Atkins Diet to your needs, but the first decision you need to make—after deciding that Atkins is for you, of course—is in which phase to start. For many people, Phase 1, Induction, is a brief jump-start phase to get them off on the right foot before moving on. Others may remain there longer to achieve considerable weight loss before transitioning to the next phase.

We advise people with more pounds to lose or certain health issues to start in Induction, but otherwise you can start in Phase 2, Ongoing Weight Loss, or even Phase 3, Pre-Maintenance, if you prefer. Obviously, the more grams of carbs you’re consuming—progressively more in each phase—the more slowly excess weight will come off.
The following considerations should guide you in your decision about where to begin:

Amount of Weight to Lose

  • If you have less than 15 pounds to lose, you can probably start in Phase 2, Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), especially if you’re young and active. On the other hand, if you’re a bit older, you might chose to start in Induction, as weight loss will likely occur more slowly.
  • If you have no weight to lose and simply want to feel better and have more energy, you can start in Pre-Maintenance.
  • If you have up to 30 pounds to lose, you’ll probably want to start in Induction, but feel free to start in OWL if you want to add more variety in food options in exchange for slower weight loss.
  • With more than 30 pounds to lose, you’ll almost definitely want to begin in Induction.

Metabolic Issues

  • If you’re over 50, your metabolism has probably slowed with the passage of years. Start in Induction and move to Ongoing Weight Loss after two weeks if the pounds come off easily and you’re so inclined. Or hang out there a longer, if you wish.
  • If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you should probably start in Induction unless you have less than 15 pounds to lose, in which case you could start in OWL and lose more slowly.
  • If you gained and lost and regained weight for years, you may have become resistant to weight loss. Start in Induction to get off on the right foot.

Health Issues

  • If you have type 2 diabetes, we strongly suggest that you start in Induction and remain there at least until you get your blood sugar and insulin levels under control. However, if you want more variety, start in OWL and add nuts and seeds first. They’re a convenient snack that won’t have a profound impact on blood sugar.
  • If your doctor has diagnosed you with metabolic syndrome or your waist measures more than 40 inches (if you’re a guy) or is it larger than your hips (if you’re a gal), and you have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, chances are that you have this condition, also known as prediabetes. Have your doctor check your blood sugar, blood pressure and insulin levels. Start in Induction, and remain there until you get your blood sugar and insulin levels under control.
  • If you have high triglycerides, starting in Induction will help you improve your triglyceride level more quickly.

Lifestyle Choices

  • If you’re a vegetarian, we strongly suggest that you begin in OWL at 30 grams of Net Carbs so that you can consume nuts and seeds from the start. See Atkins for Vegetarians for more information.
  • If you’re a vegan, you have to start in OWL at about 50 grams of Net Carbs to ensure adequate protein intake. See Atkins for Vegans for more information.
Even if you decide to start in a later phase, be sure to read the content on earlier phases to understand what foods you can eat and what to expect in your first few weeks on Atkins. And no matter where you decide to start, if your results don’t meet your expectations, you can always go back and begin at an earlier phase.
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Disclaimer: Nothing contained on this Site is intended to provide health care advice. Should you have any health care-related questions, please call or see your physician or other health care provider. Consult your physician or health care provider before beginning the Atkins Diet as you would any other weight loss or weight maintenance program. The weight loss phases of the Atkins Diet should not be used by persons on dialysis or by pregnant or nursing women.