Atkins Diet – Flexible Rules and Balanced Menu

Atkins Diet – Flexible Rules and Balanced Menu

Want to lose weight and look great? The Atkins diet is one of the most famous you can try. We reveal to you its rules and menu.

The Atkins diet is a kind of diet that promotes low carbohydrate intake and is suitable for those who want to get rid of extra pounds. Those who have followed this diet claim that in order to lose weight and reach the desired weight, you should eat as much as possible food that contains proteins and fats, while carbohydrates should be avoided.

The Atkins diet was introduced to the world by Dr. Robert Atkins. He wrote a book about it in 1972, which soon became very popular. Since then, this diet has become known and popular all over the world, although a large number of books on the subject have been written since then.

Scientists have also become interested in this diet, so in the last 15 years, a large number of studies have been published that talk about its contribution and experiences in weight loss, but also the possibility of improving the overall condition of the organism.

Atkins Diet and Its Rules

Initially, scientists were not proponents of the Atkins diet, because they considered it unhealthy, especially because of the possibility of consuming a large percentage of fat during the diet. However, over time, that opinion has changed. A great contribution to that change gave the research which has found that eating good fats is not harmful, as well as the experiences of those who have followed this diet.

Also, the conclusions that have been reached refer to the Atkins diet results, so it is now known that this diet not only helps to lose weight but at the same time leads to improved level of blood sugar, HDL (good cholesterol), triglycerides. Although it contains a high percentage of fat, research has shown that following this diet generally does not contribute to an increase in LDL (bad cholesterol).

It is important to emphasize that the Atkins diet does not support excessive fat intake, nor a drastic reduction of carbohydrates. The intake of these parameters is harmonized with the menu so that the human organism can function without harmful consequences.

Atkins Diet – Phases

The main reason why low carb diets are effective for weight loss is a change of diet and the daily menu. Namely, those who eat fewer carbohydrates, automatically take in more proteins in the diet, which reduces appetite, and maintains the feeling of satiety. That is why those who follow the Atkins diet do not feel hunger while consuming fewer calories and losing weight.  

The Atkins diet has 4 phases, similar to the Dukan diet.

Phase I

In the first phase, you should eat a maximum of 20 grams of carbohydrates a day, for a period of 2 weeks. During this period, food rich in fats and proteins is eaten, in combination with vegetables that have a low carbohydrate content (green vegetables). Phase I is the right start for successful weight loss and lasts until you lose 14lb (7kg).

Sometimes it can be more, and sometimes less than 2 weeks, but 2 weeks is an average according to the experiences of those who have been on this diet.

Phase II

During the second phase, nuts, other vegetables with low carbohydrate content and a limited amount of fruit are slowly introduced into the diet. The daily intake of carbohydrates increases by 5 grams every week (the first week the amount of carbohydrates is 25 grams, the second 30 grams…). The second phase lasts until you reach about 14lb (7kg) till the desired weight.

Phase III

Now, when the desired weight is getting closer, it is allowed to increase the daily intake of carbohydrates by 10 grams per week. This phase lasts until the desired weight is reached.

Phase IV

In the fourth phase, the intake of healthy carbohydrates is allowed, but as long as it does not lead to weight gain. So, 10 grams of carbohydrates are still added per week, but if the body weight increases slightly, the intake of carbohydrates decreases by 10 grams. In that way, you discover for yourself how many carbohydrates your body really needs, and you stick to that intake.

However, experience has shown that in some cases, the Atkins diet can be very successful without strict adherence to the phases. Anyone can combine it in the way they think fits best into the previous way of life, so it often happens that those who follow it skip Phase I or introduce a larger amount of fruits and vegetables from the very beginning.

Some people think that the first phase is quite enough, so throughout the diet they remain at this stage.

Atkins diet menu

Atkins Diet Menu

Because of the characteristics that make it successful, the Atkins diet requires a change in the menu you are used to. The new menu should contain certain foods that will contribute to weight loss, recommended by this diet.

Foods to Avoid

Whether you strictly follow the diet phases or choose to make your own combination, your menu should not contain these ingredients.

  • Sugar: juices, sweets, ice cream.
  • Cereals: wheat, rice, rye, barley.
  • Vegetable oils: soybean, corn, canola.
  • Trans fats: found in industrially processed foods that contain the word “hydrogenated” in their composition.
  • Foods labeled “dietary” or “low fat”: These foods usually have a high percentage of sugar.
  • Vegetables that contain a high level of carbohydrates: carrots, potatoes, any other type of beet (this only applies to Phase I).
  • Fruits that contain a high level of carbohydrates: bananas, apples, oranges, pears, grapes (this only applies to Phase I).
  • Lentils, beans, chickpeas.

Foods to Eat

These are the foods you should include in your menu while following the Atkins diet.

  • Meat: beef, mutton, chicken, duck, goose, bacon.
  • Fish: fatty and sea fish, trout, salmon, sardines.
  • Seafood.
  • Eggs (among the most nutritious natural products and are therefore a common ingredient in breakfast).
  • Low carb vegetables: spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus, lettuce, rocket, cucumber, celery, chives, mushrooms, peppers.
  • Dairy products: butter, cheese, yogurt.
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds.
  • Healthy oils: cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil.
  • Herbal spices.

The rules of the Atkins diet are very simple: as long as you base your menu on proteins, with the use of healthy oils, as well as vegetables, nuts, and seeds, you will lose weight.

What Should Be Included in the Menu From Time to Time

If you thought that this is another diet that will put limits on eating what you like, experience shows that it is not quite so. Of course, the Atkins diet also promotes the intake of healthy foods, but there is also space for those delicious ones, which no one can resist.

Some of them are bacon, cheese, sour cream, and dark chocolate.

These foods are generally considered fattening because they contain a high percentage of fat and calories, so it may be strange that some of them are on the list of those that can be consumed occasionally. However, a low carb diet like Atkins’ has to compensate in some way for the energy sources that the body receives from carbohydrates.  Therefore, these foods are acceptable in the Atkins diet and can be used.

What Can You Drink When You Are on the Atkins Diet

These are liquids and drinks allowed in the Atkins diet.

  • Water.
  • Coffee. Although it may not agree with what you have heard about coffee so far, coffee contains antioxidants and its consumption is recommended.
  • Green tea.
  • Alcohol can also be consumed in smaller amounts (although it should be avoided in Phase I). Opt for wine and avoid drinks high in carbohydrates, such as beer.

Menu Proposal for the First Phase of the Atkins Diet

This is a menu suggestion for the first phase of the Atkins diet, but you can stick to it in other phases as well, gradually adding foods that contain more carbohydrates.

Day 1

Breakfast: eggs with green vegetables, fried in coconut or olive oil
Lunch: chicken salad with olive oil and a handful of nuts and seeds
Dinner: beef steak and green vegetables

Day 2

Breakfast: eggs with bacon, yogurt
Lunch: chicken with spinach
Dinner: burger, butter and boiled broccoli

Day 3

Breakfast: Vegetables with sour cream
Lunch: Beef stew with vegetables
Dinner: Shrimp and vegetable salad, with olive oil

Day 4

Breakfast: Boiled egg, bacon, cucumber
Lunch: Salmon with butter and vegetables
Dinner: Lettuce with vegetables and cheese

Day 5

Breakfast: Omelette and yogurt
Lunch: Meatballs
Dinner: Chicken salad with vegetables and olive oil

Day 6

Breakfast: Mushrooms and peppers fried in butter
Lunch: Meatballs, rocket salad
Dinner: Pieces of pork with vegetables

Day 7

Breakfast: Omelette with cheese and vegetables
Lunch: Grilled chicken wings in vegetable sauce
Dinner: Vegetable salad with beef slices

The vegetables you use should be varied and 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates in Phase I should be from vegetables.

If you still feel hungry after eating the suggested 3 meals, you are allowed to eat occasionally as a snack:

  • Food left over from yesterday (if there are larger quantities left, you can use it as a main meal the next day).
  • Boiled egg.
  • A piece of cheese.
  • A piece of meat.
  • A handful of nuts and seeds.
  • Yogurt.
  • Berries with a little neutral cream.

After Phase I, you can also eat carrots or fruit as a snack. You can also use mayonnaise (made from one of the listed oils) as a salad dressing.

If you go to a restaurant with friends or family, don’t waver. You can also stick to your Atkins diet for lunch or dinner out. Here are some tips to help you decide which dish to choose.

  • Order an extra serving of vegetables instead of bread, potatoes, or rice.
  • Order a dish that contains meat or fish.
  • Ask for butter or olive oil if you feel that the food or salad is not spiced enough. Sauces can have starch or flour, so don’t take risks with them. Also, salad dressings often contain sugar, so they should be avoided.
  • Avoid anything that is deep-fried, breaded, or fried.

When you are at home, try not to have groceries that you should not consume, so as not to be tempted to try them. This especially applies to ice cream, carbonated drinks and juices, muesli, sweets, and white flour products.

Atkins diet experience

Atkins Diet Experience

Regardless of what you have heard or read so far about the Atkins diet, experience shows that it is actually very flexible. Only during Phase I it is necessary to reduce the intake of carbohydrates and to adhere to strictly indicated amounts for their intake in your menu. When this phase is over, it is allowed to gradually include healthy carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, but also cereals such as oats and rice (again in the indicated amount, but higher than the one in Phase I). This is similar to the restriction phase in the Chrono diet.

However, to maintain the desired weight, the experiences of those who have followed the Atkins diet say that you should follow these rules even when you are done with the diet. As after following any other diet, unwanted pounds will return if you return to the old habits. In the case of the Atkins diet, it is very important that carbohydrates return to the diet gradually. In that way, you will be able to see for yourself to what extent you can take a certain food, without the effect of re-gaining or increasing weight.

Experience has also shown that a large number of those who have followed the Atkins diet feel that their appetite decreases after the first 2 days. They usually say that even 2 meals a day are enough for them, instead of the standard 3 meals. Therefore, during the diet, in order to eat all the regular meals, they start to reduce the portions. In general, the proposed food from the menu satisfies them so much that they do not need a snack.

One of the common reasons why this diet is considered unhealthy is, unfortunately, the irresponsibility of those who follow it. This is not a diet that promotes only meat. Atkins diet gives the choice to use other foods in addition to meat. This fact is often neglected, so the experiences of people who say that they used nothing but meat, eggs, and fats during the diet are most often heard, which is a completely wrong approach to the Atkins diet. In such cases, of course, there can be serious consequences. Atkins diet is balanced, allows the intake of other ingredients, at least the necessary minimum, and any arbitrary deviation from it can have consequences for the body and health.

Those who have had experience with the Atkins diet say that it can be a very successful solution for weight loss if a similar diet pattern is continued afterwards. This certainly means a change in lifestyle which implies giving up some old eating habits and menu items that have led to unwanted pounds.

In those who followed the Atkins diet due to problems with cardiovascular diseases, high sugar level,s or triglycerides, it proved to be an extremely useful solution. It is often heard from their experience that it even helped them solve these problems in the long run.

Recent research suggests that the Atkins diet, due to the menu that insists on a minimal intake of simple carbohydrates and refined starchy foods, could be used as a preventative in the fight against some types of cancer. However, as with any diet, before starting the Atkins diet, you should consult a doctor and go for regular medical check-ups.

Many people notice that in Phase I they are losing weight very fast. Others have a different experience and say that weight loss is slow. No matter how fast you lose weight, to succeed, you have to follow the rules precisely. This is equally true for those who aim to improve their blood sugar or fat levels. The experiences of those who have followed this diet say that if you do not do so, you will be disappointed with the effect long before you are given the opportunity to really see what the Atkins diet can do for you.


  1. Low-Carbohydrate Diets
  2. Robert Atkins (physician)
  3. Stanford diet study tips scale in favor of Atkins plan
  4. The proven low carb approach
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