The Program: How to Do Induction Right
What Are Foundation Vegetables?
When a construction crew builds a house, do they start with the roof or the windows? Of course not. They begin with the foundation upon which everything else rests. When you begin Atkins in Phase 1, Induction, you switch to a new way of eating that will ultimately build the new you. In order to shift your body over to burning primarily fat—instead of carbs, in the form of glucose—for energy, you’ll consume only 20 grams of Net Carbs
. You’ll be getting your carbs primarily, at least in Induction, from the leafy greens and other high-fiber, nonstarchy vegetables known as foundation vegetables. We recommend that at least 12 to 15 grams of those Net Carbs come from foundation veggies. This is the equivalent of approximately six cups of salad and two cups of cooked vegetables, depending upon the ones you select, each day, well in excess of the USDA’s recommended guidelines.
As you gradually increase your carb intake, adding new foods and seeking your tolerance for carbs, you’ll build upon these vegetables. They’ll continue to be the foundation of your carb consumption as you move through the phases. That solid base will ensure that you consume enough fiber, which moderates your blood sugar levels. The fiber also fills you up so you don’t get hungry again as quickly as you do when you eat carbohydrates deficient in fiber—meaning most processed foods. And, as you surely know, vegetables provide a rich array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients. The greater variety of vegetables you eat, the better your chances of getting most or all micronutrients. Whether you’re eventually consuming 45 or 95 grams of Net Carbs a day, you should never drop below the 12 to 15 grams from these vegetables, which are among the highest quality carbohydrates you can consume. Remember, they are the foundation of your carb intake.
Eat ’em Raw…
These long list of foundation vegetables include both salad vegetables and others that are usually cooked. For a complete list of foundation vegetables, see Acceptable Foods for
A serving of raw vegetables is usually a cup, which is roughly the size of your fist. Measure salad vegetables raw except for items such as artichoke hearts. In addition to the lettuce, watercress, arugula, radicchio and other “greens,” vegetables such as peppers, cucumber, broccoli, scallions, and fennel fall into this category, joined by fruits generally thought of as vegetables: avocados, tomatoes and olives. Yes, they are botanically fruits, although they behave more like vegetables when it comes to their impact on your blood sugar level. Tomatoes, onions, red bell peppers and a few other salad vegetables are higher in carbs than are others so watch portion sizes.
Raw foundation vegetables also come in handy at snack time. Celery, daikon or jicama (but not carrot) sticks are low in carbs, but do make sure to have them with a slice of cheese or a schmeer of cream cheese or with some olives. The fat and/or protein in those accompaniments will moderate the impact of the carbs on your system.
. . . Or Cook ’em Up
Bell peppers, fennel, spinach, cabbage and a few other foundation vegetables that appear on the list of salad vegetables also put in an appearance on the cooked vegetable list in Acceptable Foods for Phase 1
. The only difference is that you count their carb content after they’re cooked, which usually raises the count. Think about how spinach, for example, compacts when cooked. Four cups of raw spinach cook down to 1 cup, with equivalent carb counts. Other cooked foundation vegetables include artichokes, asparagus, string beans, bok choy, zucchini, spaghetti squash, pumpkin, okra, and eggplant. Even if you aren’t crazy about every vegetable in the world, you have lots to pick from.
A standard serving of a cooked vegetable is a half-cup. A number of these vegetables are slightly higher in carbs than the salad vegetables listed above. Unless otherwise noted, be sure to measure them after you cook them. Note that some, such as celery root, kohlrabi, leeks, mushrooms, onions, and pumpkin, are higher in carbs than most, so we have usually indicated smaller portions. You can steam, sauté, stir-fry, or braise most of these vegetables. Boiling destroys and/or removes nutrients (unless you drink the broth). Don’t miss the opportunity to eat foundation vegetables at breakfast. Steamed asparagus wrapped in slices of ham with a dollop of mayonnaise or a spinach and cheese omelet can get your day off to a great start.