The Program: Phase 1

When to Move On

After two weeks on Atkins, it’s decision time. Assuming you’ve been following the program correctly and have lost weight over the last two weeks, you can choose to remain in Phase 1 (Kick-Start) or transition to Phase 2 (Balancing).

The Fast Track

If you’re motivated by quick weight loss and thrive on structure and a minimum of choices, you may choose to stay in Phase 1 beyond two weeks. To make this process easier, as well as set the stage for when you do decide to move on:
  • Continue to consume 20 grams of Net Carbs a day beyond the first two weeks.
  • Try adding nuts and seeds to your list of acceptable foods. Nuts are full of protein and healthy fats and are relatively low in Net Carbs, thanks to their high fiber content.
To make it easy, swap out 3 grams of Net Carbs from other foods, such as 1/2 cup of green beans, a smallish tomato, or 11/2 cups mixed greens, for 3 grams of nuts or seeds, but without letting your intake of foundation veggies dip below 12 grams of Net Carbs. (You’ll still have 5 grams for Atkins bars and shakes, sweeteners, dressings, or condiments.)

As a quick guide, 3 grams of Net Carbs of nuts or seeds translates to 30 almonds, 3 tablespoons macadamia nuts, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons pistachios, or 4 tablespoons shelled sunflower seeds; 24 walnut halves come in at 3.4 grams. Portion out nuts and seeds in advance to avoid overeating. A couple of tablespoons of walnuts, almonds, pecans, or pumpkin seeds make a great snack.


Or top a salad with sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts. You can also now have other nut and seed butters (stuff them into celery sticks) or coconut, almond, and other nut flours (available in the baking section or specialty foods aisle of the supermarket).

Transition to Phase 2 (Balancing) no later than when you’re within 15 pounds of your goal weight. At that point it’s time to start transitioning to a permanent way of eating by introducing foods higher up the Carb Ladder.

Slow and Steady

Alternatively, you may choose to lose the bulk of your weight in Phase 2 (Balancing). If you’re comfortable with a slower, steadier rate of weight loss, after two weeks (or a few more) start to climb the Carb Ladder. You begin adding Balancing foods in 5g increments. The gradual increase in Net Carb intake and reintroduction of new foods allows you to continue to shave off pounds and inches, maintain appetite control, and feel energetic. You’ll also gradually come to understand which, if any, foods trigger cravings for more of the same and/ or interfere with weight loss.

You may find that you’re comfortable at a relatively low level of Net Carbs a day, perhaps 25 to 35 grams, which is not all that different from Kick-Start but does allow you to eat such delicious, nutritious food as nuts and seeds and then berries, melon, and cherries. Next you’ll move on to Greek yogurt and fresh cheeses. Or you may find you can go considerably higher, say 50 or 60 grams of Net Carbs or even more, which will allow you to include legumes and some vegetable juices.




The balancing process enables you to find what works for you. Understanding your carb tolerance is the bridge from a weight-loss diet to a diet for life. Click here to learn more about the pros and cons of each approach.

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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.