Atkins Induction Diet Plan: Which Version is Best?

Barbecued Chicken Wings
BBQ Chicken Wings on the grill is great for all Atkins plans.

Want to go Keto but having trouble deciding which Atkins Induction Plan to try?

If so, then your troubles are over.

In this post, you'll get the pros and cons for each Atkins Induction program, as well as plenty of advice on how to figure out which Atkins version is the best for you.

Are you struggling to figure out which version of the Atkins Induction Diet is right for you?

Are you afraid of making a mistake?

When I returned to a low-carb diet in the beginning of 2007, I started with Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, the 2002 version, due to its availability.

When I bought the book, however, I didn’t know the diet had evolved into something completely different from the diet I was so familiar with.

Many Atkins followers I ran into on the web thought the Atkins 2002 diet program was the only true Atkins’ plan. They were surprised to learn there wasn't just one single Atkins Diet.

Since it's humble beginnings in 1972, the Atkins diet has been revamped and changed many times.

Today, Atkins offers many different Induction programs to choose from.

You don't have to limit yourself to the latest versions written by Atkins Nutritionals representatives. Instead of being stuck using Atkins 20 or Atkins 40, you can actually pick the best version that will assist you in reaching your weight-loss goals.

But how do you know which version of Atkins Induction is best for YOU?

Pinterest Image: Barbecued Chicken Wings and Deviled Eggs

Problems with the 2002 Version of Atkins

In 2007, a small group of us had serious problems with the latest Atkins Diet at the time. We:
  • were stalled
  • gaining weight
  • enduring severe cravings
While our individual metabolic issues were different, it didn’t take very long to understand that if we stuck to the current Atkins program, we would never reach the weight we wanted to be.

This is why I have always been a strong advocate for tweaking the diet once you are sure that your body has adjusted to carbohydrate restriction.

In my own case, I lost only one pound on Atkins Induction and only another pound by the end of that first month. There was no glycogen and water whoosh at all. The second month on Atkins 2002 brought another two pounds gone, for a total of four, but nothing more after that.

At the end of 12 weeks, I knew I had to do something different or I wasn’t going to reach ideal weight.

Having started at 256-1/2 pounds and still weighing way too much three months later, my 5-ft frame said something had to change. Atkins 2002 Induction was not working for me.

Why was Dr. Atkins’ Original Diet Revolution so Strict?

To get the pounds coming off, I had to go back to the Atkins 72 Induction, drop most of the vegetables I was eating, and tighten the reins on the gross amounts of:
  • cheese
  • sour cream
  • pork rinds
  • and other low-carb products 
The main difference between Atkins 72 Induction and the Atkins 2002 Induction was the amount of salad and other vegetables you could eat, as well as the restrictions on cream and sugar substitutes. Atkins 72 Induction was also lower in fat.

With Atkins 72, you got only two loosely packed 1-cup salads per day, and up to 4 teaspoons of heavy cream. While butter and oils could be used freely, there wasn't anything to put them on.

In the 70s, when Dr. Atkins created The Diet Revolution, most of his patients had inflammatory bowel conditions, wheat allergies, or hypoglycemia. He believed that taking them off most fibrous vegetables, as well as sugar and starches, would allow the intestines to heal quicker.

This was what he personally told the Listserve I belonged to in 1999 when folks from that online group questioned his statement about allowing net carbs.

Grilled Chicken Breast
To get the pounds coming off again,
I had to up protein and cut down on vegetables and fats.

Members also asked Dr. Atkins if they needed to buy the new Atkins book, but Dr. Atkins told us:


Between 1992 and 1999 his statement on not seeing anything wrong with a soluble fiber deduction was the only change to the diet he had made.

It wasn’t a rule, however.

At the end of 1999, according to Dr. Atkins himself, deducting for soluble fiber was still optional.

Low Carb Induction Plan Changes in 1992

In 1984, Dr. Atkins did change the Induction plan from his original diet after discovering that many of his patients were cheating on the diet, yet still losing weight.

They weren't cheating by eating a massive amount of carbs, however. They were cheating by eating more vegetables.

So in 1984, Dr. Atkins introduced some of what his patients were doing to his original diet plan. These changes also made it into the 1992 version of Atkins Induction.

While Dr. Atkins designed his original diet to ensure that even the most stubborn of metabolic-resistant individuals could still get into ketosis within a couple of days, the Atkins 92 Induction relaxed some of the strictness.

Where Atkins 72 only allowed you two loosely packed 1-cup salads a day, now you could have 2/3 cup of cooked low-carb vegetables AND a loosely-packed 2-cup salad per day. 

Better yet, in 1992, you could just chuck that whole idea of him telling you what to eat, and design your own Induction plan by counting a daily total of 20 carbs – but with no deduction for fiber.

This 20-carb eat-anything-you-want plan was the plan that most of us followed in 1999 because it allowed more variety and the ability to make the Atkins Diet your own.

2002 Brought More Changes to the Induction Diet

In 2002, things began to really change.

Cooked vegetables went up slightly, from 2/3 cup to 1 cup. The limits on heavy cream also went up from 4 teaspoons a day to 2 tablespoons.

However, people often ignored the restrictions and cautions Dr. Atkins put into the 2002 book about cream, sugar substitutes, avocados, and other specialty foods.

This was when folks began to have trouble getting into ketosis, especially after Atkins’ Nutritionals tweaked the 2002 diet plan to raise the vegetable content even further.

Instead of 2 cups of loosely packed salad and 1 cup of cooked vegetables, as outlined in the 2002 book, Atkins Nutritionals insisted that those on Atkins Induction had to consume 12 to 15 net carbs per day in vegetables, regardless of how many cups that was.

ANA supporters declared that if you didn't do it the ANA way, you were not doing Atkins.

Most of the problems I saw back then were due to the program no longer being individualized. It had evolved from a personal approach where you created your own low-carb diet plan to fit within your individual carbohydrate tolerance, personal tastes, and lifestyle into a low glycemic plan for the general population.

The marketing focus was on attracting health-conscious individuals to the plan by making the plan look more healthy than it actually was.

The new program contained a higher amount of carbohydrate than previous plans, so only some people were able to enter ketosis within a few days.

Those with:
were not able to get into ketosis that way.

Despite Dr. Atkins attempt to make it very clear in several interviews before his death that personalization was the key to success on the Atkins Diet, the ANA advocates continued to hold the 2002 book up as gospel.

Coupled with the ANA changes, Atkins 2002 Induction soon became known as the Bible of Low Carb.

The New Atkins for a New You

The next version of the Atkins Induction plan attempted to correct some of the misunderstandings regarding fat consumption the low-carb community was having, and gave examples of what a proper serving looked like, but it also raised the carbohydrate bar again.

Vegetable consumption soared up to whopping 6 cups a day, but in compromise, it was promoted as making the Atkins Nutritionals requirement easier to reach since you could count your vegetables by the cupful instead of weighing them out.

Even fewer people found The New Atkins for a New You successful.

It was written to attract young adults with an interest in good nutrition, who were only mildly insulin resistant. For the average dieter, with metabolic syndrome or moderate to severe insulin resistance, it was just too many carbs to eat on Induction.

It bombed so badly that the ANA attempted to write their own diet book shortly thereafter. The new version was just a simpler form of low carb, they said.

But when you look carefully at the direction the Atkins Diet has traveled since the ANA purchased Dr. Atkins name, it's easy to see that the ANA's goal is to turn Dr. Atkins Diet into a low-glycemic approach, so they can dump the negativity attached to low-carb diets and attract more health-conscious dieters into the fold.

I believe this is the reason behind the switch from low carb to effective carbs, the introduction of lean meats, and focusing on carbs that won't affect your blood sugar (Glycemic Index friendly). They know that low carb isn't magic and that calories and portion control are what drives fat loss.

Low carb just makes it easier to eat at a caloric deficit.

The Advent of Atkins 20 and Atkins 40

When I first wrote this article, Atkins 20 and Atkins 40 didn't exist. And despite what the ANA keeps saying about Atkins 20, it is NOT the original Atkins Diet.

The original Atkins Diet did not force you to eat 12 to 15 net carbs per day in vegetables and salads.

Atkins 72 let you determine what the best carbohydrate level was for you, depending on your individual tolerance to carbs and taste preferences, especially vegetables.

Atkins 20 is similar to the ANA's version of Atkins 2002, except that it now limits the amount of protein you can eat per meal. That limit is 4 to 6 ounces.

They are also continuing to advise that you eat 12 to 15 net carbs, which is about 6 cups (according to them).

This new protein limit doesn't have any scientific basis. It is just complementary to the numerous, twisted, and inaccurate Nutritional Ketosis Diets (LCHF) that are being recommended by many LCHF bloggers today.

It is designed to attract those who have heard the myth that too much protein can raise your glucose level, even if you don't have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Induction is still 20 net carbs for two weeks on this new plan with the same restrictions as the ANA placed on the 2002 version of the diet before.

Atkins 40 is the new kid on the block.

Since it starts you off at 40 net carbs per day, there is NO Induction period. 

You also don't return carbs to your diet to find your individual carbohydrate tolerance level. Structured similar to Dr. Eades Protein Power Life Plan, you eat 40 carbs until you reach the pre-maintenance stage.

There are limits to how many carbs you can eat per meal or snack, as well as other limitations. But it also allows you to eat grains and starchy vegetables from day one.

Atkins 40 is a low-glycemic plan designed for those who are Insulin sensitive, rather than Insulin resistant.

If you have less than 40 pounds to lose, this is the plan the ANA recommends for you. They do not recommend Atkins 20 for those with only a few pounds to lose.

Sorting Out the Induction Programs – Finding What Works for You

Platter of Salad

Many individuals brought up with the 2002 version have become so attached to that prior Atkins diet that they have refused to make the move to any of the newer plans.
It's similar to how many low carbers refused to switch from Atkins 92 to Atkins 2002. Some of the arguments are valid. Other arguments are based on the fear of letting go of the familiar.

So, how do you figure out which version of the Atkins Diet is best for you?

Those who believe in the 2002 version will vote for that book, and those who believe in Atkins 92 will tell you that older version is the right one. Those who haven’t been able to lose weight without reverting back to Atkins 72 will stand up for that plan being best.

People who have tried The New Atkins for a New You, Atkins 20, or Atkins 40 -- and are doing fine -- will defend those newer plans as well.

So which is it?

The correct answer, of course, is – it depends.

This is because there are a number of variables that need to be considered when choosing the best Atkins Induction plan for you.

  • degree of metabolic resistance
  • amount of intestinal inflammation
  • overall insulin level
  • speed of metabolism
  • body’s reaction to vegetables
  • individual carbohydrate level for losing
  • calorie consumption
  • ability to digest and absorb dietary fats properly
will all play a significant role in how your body reacts to a particular Induction diet.

To further complicate the matter, a low-carb diet, as written, isn’t a single shoe that fits everyone. Dr. Atkins used to clearly state that, explaining how he formed the diet to fit the lifestyle and personality of his patients.

He tweaked some of the restrictions and requirements to fit their health issues and dietary preferences. But few remember that today. Most people fight to stay back in 2002.

There is no right or wrong approach when making this decision, but if you allow your fear of making the wrong choice to control you, then the fear will win.

Fear is paralyzing.

You won't do anything if caught in the net of fear, so a year from now, you'll be trying to make the same decision. A year from now, you won't be any healthier or slimmer.

The Best Approach

Being a responsible adult takes courage. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, to take risks, and endure the consequences for what happens due to the decisions you make.

Failure isn't bad.

And pain is not evil.

Making a mistake when choosing a particular Atkins Induction plan doesn't mean there is something wrong with you. It simply means that you now need to try something different.

In 2007, there was only a few plans to choose from, so when 2002 didn't work, I decided to go back to the roots of the low-carb movement, and start working forward from there.

That may, or may not be the right choice for you.

It all depends on if you are insulin resistant or insulin sensitive. The more sensitive you are to insulin, the more carbs you need in your diet.

While many low-carb advocates believe everyone should be eating a low-carb diet, I am not one of them. There is a large group of overweight individuals who don't have the genetics or biological makeup to do well restricting carbs as drastically as early versions of the Atkins Diet recommend.

If you are insulin sensitive, rather than insulin resistant, low carb can actually make you very sick. As such, it might not be the right choice for you.

There is nothing magical about a low-carb diet. There is nothing magical about the state of ketosis. Ketosis is a by-product of breaking down fat. That's all.

The aim of a low-carb diet is to:
  • lower your overall insulin level
  • lower your triglyceride level
  • balance any blood glucose irregularities
  • and to become fat adapted
In ketosis, hunger will decrease and make eating at a calorie deficit more comfortable and easy. The diet that Dr. Atkins invented was the Hungry Man's Diet. That's it. It's no more magical than that.

No one knows your body better than you do.

Make the effort to get to know the different Induction programs. Spend a little time on the Atkins page in the navigation bar at the top of this blog reading some of the articles on Atkins Induction.

Think about what each Atkins Induction plan offers, especially how they might affect your individual health problems and degree of metabolic syndrome, before deciding.

The worst thing you could do is decide that your choice is not reversible.

It is.

If the plan you pick doesn't work out, simply tweak it or choose another plan. Nothing is non-negotiable.

The secret to weight management is to be ready to do whatever is necessary to make your dream of thinness come true. 

If you can do that, then the sky is the limit. There is nothing you can't do if you're willing to do what it takes to get there.

But you have to take the first step.

You have to choose an Atkins Induction plan and begin.

Just begin. You can always make a course correction as you move forward toward your ideals.


  1. I absolutely agree with you! I have tried the New Diet Revolution and was unable to lose any weight at all, even on induction. I have recently reverted back to the original success I had back in the 70's and the pounds are coming off. I am of course 40 years older, post menopausal (yikes) and am losing slower than I didl, but I'm steadily losing. I couldn't do that counting net carbs. I also could not do that eating any of the Atkins sweets they have out there now even if I kept it to one a day and didn't go over 20.

  2. Anonymous,
    Thanks so much for sharing your insights and comments. It does get much harder and more restrictive each time to go back to a low-carb diet. From watching others, I've seen that the older we get, the more important Atkins 72 seems to be for us.

  3. Hi vickie where can I get the original atkins diet from the 70's as I too lost a lot on that particular Atkins diet but not in the new ones.

    1. Hi did you ever get a reply as to where we can get a copy? That is the diet that worked best for me and i have lost my 72 copy

  4. The only place I know of to get the 1972 book is at Amazon. They have used copies for sale there. Search for "Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution 1972," and whatever copies are available will come up. The book itself is out of print.

  5. Thank you for this. I am having a hard time deciding which way to start again. I know the 70's one curbs my cravings faster. What I want to do is eventually find my own carb tolerance level. My problem is that I like the more structured menu plan of The New Atkins for a New You and feel I will mess up if I am allowed to make choices for myself.

    Any advice?


    1. I have the New Atkins for a New You Book but have never read it all the way through. I didn't realize there was such an extensive meal plan in there. Wow. That's really helpful. I need to take a closer look at that for ideas.

      Right now, I have a 7-day Atkins 72 Menu I've been working on that I plan to post tomorrow. I want to do a lot of menus this year. I have a 3-day menu and a 7-day Induction menu for 2002 that I did last year. They are under the Atkins Diet tab at the top of the blog.

      One thing you might consider is to do the 72 menu I'm going to to post tomorrow, (carbs are only 2 cups of salad and a few salad-veggies a day), then move to the 7-day 2002 menu I already have posted, (2 cups of salad and 1 cup cooked vegetables), and then move to the Induction menu in your book (6 cups of salad/veggies I think?).

      That way, you could get your cravings under control before you started eating too many vegetables. You'd slide into that higher carb veggie level that The New Atkins for a New You is at.

      It's the sugar in the vegetables that keeps the cravings alive, so for the first 2 to 3 weeks, you want to eat more meat and eggs, and keep your vegetables low. Let the body adapt.

  6. Thank you very much! This will help me plan out what too eat.


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