Atkins Induction Diet Plan: Which Version is Best?

Barbecued Chicken Wings
BBQ Chicken Wings  on Grill
Great for All Atkins Plans
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 different from the diet I was so familiar with.

Many Atkins followers I ran into on the web at that time thought that particular diet program was the only true Atkins’ plan. They were surprised to learn there isn't just one single Atkins Diet. Since it's humble beginnings in 1972, the Atkins diet has been revamped several 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, Inc. representatives. Instead, you can pick the best version that will assist you in reaching your weight-loss goals, but which version is that?

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


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 were doing, as written, 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 two pounds on Atkins Induction and no more by the end of that first month. The second month 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 weighting way too much three months later, my 5-ft frame said something had to change.

Atkins 2002 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 
I was eating on Atkins 2002. The main difference between Atkins 72 and Atkins 2002 Induction was the amount of salad and other vegetables you could eat, as well as the restrictions on cream and sugar substitutes.

With Atkins 72, you got only two loosely packed 1-cup salads per day, and up to 4 teaspoons of heavy cream.

In the 70s, when Dr. Atkins created The Diet Revolution, most of his patients had inflammatory bowel conditions or wheat allergies. 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 provided the dieter only deducted for soluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber still needed to be counted.

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 fiber and net carbs 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 1992, 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. They were cheating by eating more vegetables.

So in 1992, he introduced some of what his patients were doing to his original diet plan.

Bowl of cut up broccoli
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, in 1992 he 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, you could just chuck that whole idea of him telling you what to eat, and design your own 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 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, many people ignored the restrictions, or the cautions Dr. Atkins put in the 2002 book about cream, sugar substitutes, avocados, and other specialty foods.

Folks began to have trouble getting into ketosis, especially after the Atkins’ Nutritionals, Inc. attempted to take over the steering wheel, tweaking 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 book, the Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. company 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 diet for the general population. The focus was on attracting new people 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. Despite Dr. Atkins attempts 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, and coupled with the ANA changes, 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 misunderstandings regarding fat consumption, and gave examples of what a proper serving of fat looked like, but it also raised the carbohydrate bar.

Vegetable consumption went up to about 6 cups, but in compromise, it was promoted as making the Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. 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 people with an interest in good nutrition, so it was just too many carbs for the average dieter to eat on Induction.

It bombed so badly that the ANA attempted to write their own diet book. 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 dieters.

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.


The Advent of Atkins 20 and Atkins 40

When I first wrote this article, Atkins 20 and Atkins 40 didn't exist.

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.

Atkins 20 is most similar to Atkins 2002, except that it now limits the amount of protein you can eat per meal to 4 to 6 ounces.

This new limit doesn't have any scientific basis. It's just 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. You eat at 40 carbs until you reach the pre-maintenance stage.

Atkins 40 is simply 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.

Sorting Out the Induction Programs – Finding What Works for You

Platter of Salad
Sorting Out the
Induction Programs
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, such as:
  • The New Atkins for a New You
  • Atkins 20
  • Atkins 40
It's just like how many of us refused to switch from 1992 to 2002. Some of the arguments are valid, and some are based on the fear of letting go of the familiar, so 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 the 1992 version will tell you that older version is best.

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 Atkins 20 or 40 and are doing fine will defend those 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 plan. Your:
  • 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 plan.

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 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.

Pain is not evil.

And making a mistake when choosing a particular Atkins Induction plan simply means you 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.

While many low-carb advocates believe everyone should be eating a low-carb diet, there is a large group of overweight individuals who don't have the genetics or biological makeup to do well restricting carbs so drastically. If you are insulin sensitive, rather than insulin resistant, low carb 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
  • and balance any blood glucose irregularities
so 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 above reading some of the articles on 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.

Check Out Our More Detailed Articles on Each Atkins Plan:

Atkins 72, An Alternative Low-Carb Plan
How to Do the Atkins 2002 Diet Correctly
Atkins 20: Understanding the New Phase 1 Program
Atkins 40: The New Flexible Atkins Plan
How to Do a Vegetarian Low-Carb Diet Correctly


  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.

    1. You're welcome! Glad it will be useful to you.


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