Skip To Main Content

Low Carb Diet Rules of Induction

measuring jean size

The first phase of the Atkins diet, known as Induction, is designed to jumpstart weight loss and transform your body into a fat-burning machine. By limiting the amount of net carbohydrates you eat in this phase to 20-25 grams a day, your body will switch its main fuel source from carbs to fat, helping you reach your weight loss goals in the most effective way.  

Induction is a great place to start if you have more than 40 pounds to lose, have a waist of over 35” (women) or 40” (men), are pre- diabetic* or diabetic*, you’re inactive or have a slow metabolism, or you’ve regained the weight you once lost. But Phase 1 isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have that much weight to lose or if you are vegetarian, you’ll start in Phase 2 instead.  Compare Atkins plans to find out which phase is best for you.

The Induction phase must be followed precisely to achieve success. Stick to the following low carb diet rules to make Atkins 20®, Phase 1 of Induction, the perfect weight loss plan for you.

1. Don’t skip meals!

The most important part of reaching your weight loss goals? Eating! Eating throughout the day will help keep you full and reduce the risk of overeating or choosing unhealthy foods. Aim for either three regular-sized meals a day or four to five smaller meals. Do not skip meals or go more than six waking hours without eating.

2. Power up on protein at every meal

Protein plays a key role in weight loss and protects lean muscle mass, so you lose only fat. During Induction, aim for at least three 4-6 ounce servings of protein each day in the form of poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, and red meat.

3. Be carb conscious

Eat no more than 25 grams a day of net carbohydrates, at least 12-15 grams of which must come in the form of salad greens and other vegetables. Use our Acceptable Foods List to guide you through Induction and the Atkins Carb Counter Tool to track your net carbs.

4. Fats are your friend

Consuming fat is essential to slimming down on Atkins. Fat also heightens the flavor of foods and enables your body to absorb certain vitamins. You can consume 3 tablespoons daily of pure, natural fat in the form of butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, safflower, sunflower, and other vegetable oils (preferably expeller-pressed or cold-pressed).

5. Stick to the Acceptable Foods List

Avoid eating anything that’s not included in the Acceptable Foods List. Do not eat fruit, bread, pasta, grains, starchy vegetables, or dairy products other than cheese, cream or butter. And do not eat nuts or seeds in the first two weeks. Foods that combine protein and carbohydrates, such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and other legumes are also not permitted at this time.

If you feel you must eat bread or some other grain product, only high-fiber, low-carb products with 3 grams of net carbs or less per serving are allowed, and you can eat only one serving a day. Note that even that amount may slow or stall your progress.

6. Adjust your appetite

Adjust the quantity you eat to suit your appetite, especially as it decreases. When you're hungry, eat the amount that makes you feel satisfied, but not stuffed. If you don’t have a big appetite at mealtimes, have a small low carb snack instead of skipping a meal altogether. If you’re unsure, wait ten minutes and have a glass of water to see if you’re still hungry.

7. Beware of hidden carbs

Check the carbs listed on every package label or use our Carb Counter Tool. Keep in mind that zero carbs on the label doesn’t mean “free of carbs.” The law allows manufacturers to round off if a product has fewer than 0.5 grams of any carbohydrate, which will show up as zero. The only way to detect some fractional carbs is to look for them in the ingredients list, where they must be listed if they're added to a product, regardless of the amount.

Enjoy a meal out at a restaurant as often as you wish but be on guard for hidden carbs in gravies, sauces, and dressings. Gravy is often made with flour or cornstarch, and sugar is sometimes an ingredient in salad dressing.

8. Use sugar substitutes in moderation

Use no more than three packets a day of sucralose, saccharin, and stevia as a sweetener/substitute for sugar. But because of the fillers and bulking agents that are added, be sure to count each packet of any of these as 1 gram of carbs.

9. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

The initial loss of water weight is typical during Induction, but it can lead to lightheadedness and zap you of your energy. To hydrate your body, avoid constipation and electrolyte imbalance, and flush out the by-products of burning fat, drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Two of these can be replaced with coffee or tea. Another 2 cups can be replaced with beef, chicken, or vegetable broth (not low sodium types).

If you are constipated, mix a tablespoon of psyllium husks in a cup or more of water and drink daily. You can also add ground flaxseed into a shake or sprinkle wheat bran on a salad or vegetables for added fiber.

10. Avoid too much caffeine

We don’t expect you to give up your daily cup of joe (that would be cruel!), but excessive caffeine has been shown to cause low blood sugar, which can make you crave sugar. So try to keep your consumption of coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks to a minimum.

11. Add a daily multivitamin

While not a requirement, you can take a daily iron-free multivitamin tablet and an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to make sure you are getting all the nutrients and minerals you need such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium.


Following these rules of Induction will help you successfully achieve your weight loss goals. Register with us today to start transforming your body.