The Program: How to Do Induction Right


In the first week or two after you begin the Atkins Diet, your body makes a number of adjustments, after which you’ll have gained the metabolic advantage we call the Atkins Edge. However, in those first few weeks, as your body makes the transition to burning primarily fat for energy, you might encounter a few symptoms. The most common are headaches, dizziness, weakness, fatigue—sometimes referred to as Atkins flu—and constipation. Fortunately, all are pretty easy to avoid.

Cutting Carbs Flushes You Out

Consuming lots of carbs makes you retain water, but shifting over to fat-burning has a diuretic effect. As a result, you excrete salt along with fluid. If you used to feel bloated and no longer do, that’s a good thing. And if you have high blood pressure, the diuretic effect may mean that your numbers will come down nicely in the first few days or weeks. But for many of the rest of us, fluid loss can be too much of a good thing.

Salt Is Not a Bad Thing

Salt is essential to life and well-being. The symptoms described above are not the result of the diet—too little carbohydrate, too much protein, or whatever. The real problem is the lack of just a daily pinch of sodium. Yes, individuals who are sensitive to salt may experience bloating and high blood pressure if they eat lots of salt. But interestingly, these conditions are most pronounced when people eat high-carb diets—in part, no doubt, because so many processed foods are extremely high in salt. Adapting to the low-carb state fundamentally changes how your system handles nutrients that might cause problems in a high-carb setting.

How to Manage the Problem

To restore the balance of fluids and salt—and stop most symptoms before they begin—in addition to consuming 12 to 15 of your daily grams of Net Carbs as foundation vegetables, simply drink plenty of water and consume adequate salt. Normally salting food to taste is not adequate. Instead:

  1. Don’t wait until you experience symptoms. Beginning on your first day on Atkins, follow one of the regimens below and continue it until your carb intake exceeds 50 grams of Net Carbs.

  2. If you opt for broth, drink one cup in the morning and another in the midafternoon. Ideally, make your own chicken, beef or vegetable broth, but otherwise use regular (not low-sodium) canned or tetra pak broth or a bouillon cube dissolved in water. If you’re going to be exercising vigorously, drink one portion about an hour beforehand.

  3. If you opt for salt instead, measure out the 1/2 teaspoon in the morning and sprinkle it on food throughout the day, being sure to use it all.

  4. If your choice is soy sauce, consume a total of 2 tablespoons of the regular (not low-sodium) kind daily in at least two portions as a condiment or ingredient in meals.

Another Approach

If you’re taking a diuretic medication or have been advised to restrict your salt intake, consult your physician before adding sodium to your diet. Meanwhile, be sure to eat the recommended amount of vegetables and sufficient protein with every meal, as well as drink enough fluids and take your supplements. If symptoms do crop up or remain, you may want to temporarily increase your intake to 25 grams of Net Carbs by eating more foundation vegetables. Or have some nuts or seeds or even a half-cup of tomato juice, which you would not normally have until Ongoing Weight Loss. Once you feel better, eliminate these foods for the time being and return to 20 grams of Net Carbs to speed your weight loss. Follow this advice, and you’re far unlikely to experience discomforting symptoms when starting Atkins.

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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.