Friday, August 19, 2016

What Can I Eat on Atkins Induction?

Pile of Fresh Summer Vegetables
Atkins Induction is Not Zero Carb
It Now Allows Vegetables
Whether you're doing Atkins 72 or Atkins 2002, Atkins Induction is going to be the strictest phase you have to pass through on your journey to health.

In 1972, the introductory phase allowed for less than 10 full grams of carbohydrates per day.

Just:
  • 2 cups of loosely packed greens
  • couple of raw vegetables to make that salad tolerable
  • couple of eggs
  • and a few ounces of cheese
was all the carbohydrate you got. 

Today, the Atkins Diet allows 20 net grams for the initial 2-week period called Induction.

Compared to the average American diet, which consists of 300 to 500 carbohydrates per day, your carbohydrate intake during this first phase of the Atkins Diet is going to be extremely restrictive. 

There is no getting around that.

Induction serves a specific purpose, and 20 net carbs per day has been found to be a highly reliable limit that accomplishes that purpose for most people.

However, the restrictiveness does scare a lot of folks. 

If you're new to low-carb eating and come from a dietary background that was super heavy on carbohydrate, you may find it difficult to plan your meals. If you're following the Atkins Nutritionals Inc. guidelines, you might be confused as well. Those on an extended Induction plan might be bored to tears by now.

In this post, I'm going to try and help you dissolve your fears and clear up your confusion by showing you what you can eat on Atkins Induction, as well as how to make Phase 1 fun and exciting.



How to Do Atkins Induction

[Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something by using one of those links, I might receive a small financial compensation, at no cost to you.]

Before we talk about specifics, let's get a few basics out of the way. 

The introductory stage of the 2002 version of the Atkins Diet, the version that I talk about most often here at the Kickin' Carb Clutter website, is supposed to be followed flawlessly for the first 2 weeks. 

Don't eat anything that isn't on the list of acceptable foods for Induction. Keep within its limitations for heavy cream, cheese, and other foods, and don't go over a total of 20 net carbs per day. 

That means you'll have to keep track of the number of carbs you're eating and perhaps juggle the meal and recipe suggestions below to fit within those parameters. Few people find success when they just eat low-carb foods. Most people have to do some form of tracking.

To make tracking easier, you can either pick yourself up a good calorie, fiber, and carbohydrate counter from Amazon or your local bookstore, (I prefer the Netzer Complete Book of Food Counts) or you can register for an online nutrient tracker like Fitday. 

At Fitday.com, you can set yourself up with a list of customized low-carb foods to make your daily tracking quick and easy. My Fitness Pal or some sort of carbohydrate counting app would also be an appropriate choice.

Twenty net carbs isn't a magic number.

Many people are able to go into the state of ketosis at much higher carbohydrate levels than 20 net carbs. The carb level specific to you will depend on your degree of metabolic damage and insulin resistance. 

To avoid failure during Atkins Induction, it is always best to follow the plan as written in the book you have, at least, for the first 2 weeks before you do any tweaking. 

Personally, I recommend you wait longer than 2 weeks because water fluctuations are common for at least the first 6 to 8 weeks, or even more. 

After that, if you aren't shedding body fat, you can make a few slight adjustments, if you need to, depending on how your body reacts to the carbohydrate restriction. However, it's always best to give your body ample time to adjust to this new way of eating before making any changes.

Don't rush to fix what isn't broken.

Your expectations for how quickly the weight should be coming off might not be realistic. 

The heavier you are:

the more body fat your body will be able to mobilize and burn per day. 

The less you weigh:

the less body fat your body will be able to use, so weight loss will be slower. 

The degree of your calorie deficit will also play a large role in how quickly you are able to get rid of that excess body fat. The closer you are to your target weight, the fewer calories you'll be able to eat and keep the pounds coming off quickly.

It is also a good idea to stay away from processed foods as much as possible during Phase 1. 

Induction isn't the time to chase after desserts and convenience foods, such as low-carb tortillas, sugar-free puddings, and pastas. Grains and starches are not allowed until you are much further along in your weight-loss journey.

Give yourself time to learn the foundation foods that make Atkins special.

Breakfast Ideas for Atkins Induction


Scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese sticks
Sample Atkins Induction Breakfast 
Bacon and Eggs, Cheese Sticks
When most people hear they can eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, they usually jump in with both feet and start eating bacon and eggs every single day.

That will get old very quickly. 

Variety always works best, so don't confine yourself to just eggs, bacon, or sausage. 

While those foods are certainly allowed on Atkins Induction, and you can eat them every day if you want to, there is no reason why you have to eat breakfast-type foods for breakfast. 

Think about expanding your menu choices.

Low Carb Breakfast Ideas for Those Sick of Eggs is an article I wrote for Infobarrel last year that contains a lot of ideas for healthy, out-of-the-box, low-carb breakfasts. 

Not all of them are Induction friendly, however, so you'll need to sort through them and make a few adaptions. If you're on an extended Atkins Inductions, where you're eating at 20 net carbs but have added a few extra foods to your diet for variety, there are lots of great ideas you'll find useful in that article.

If you are still in the first phase of Atkins and you are not yet comfortable with what is or is not allowed, consider the following breakfast suggestions instead.

Just make sure to count the carbohydrates in the dairy and vegetables you're eating. A handy kitchen and food scale, like this Ozeri Pronto Digital Food Scale available at Amazon, will make counting easier. 

Until you know how many grams of carbs are in the food you eat, a kitchen scale and set of measuring spoons is a must-have for Induction.
  • meatballs and simple burgers
  • lettuce salad with or without meat and cheese
  • left over roasted chicken legs
  • protein shakes
  • one-minute muffin
  • bowl of warm soup
  • lettuce wraps (tuck sandwich filling inside lettuce leaf)
  • cream cheese or pickle tucked into ham slice and rolled
  • leftover hot wings with Ranch dressing
  • burrito filling in a bowl, topped with sour cream and cheese
  • french toast made out of Revolution Rolls
Absolutely any low-carb food can be eaten for breakfast. You don't have to limit yourself to just eggs. 

However:
  • hard boiled eggs dipped in a sweet honey-mustard sauce
  • meat and vegetable omelets
  • crustless quiches
  • creamy egg custard
  • leftovers scrambled into a few eggs
  • breakfast sandwich: egg, bacon/ham/sausage, and cheese on Revolution Rolls
also make a great, easy breakfast too.

Lunch Ideas for Atkins Induction


Smoked Chicken and Salad
Smoked Chicken and Salad
If you have a microwave at work, finding great lunch ideas won't be difficult. You can simply heat up leftovers from dinner the night before. 

If you are carrying your lunch to work, and you don't have a microwave to heat up those yummy leftovers, lunch ideas can be more difficult, but they are not impossible.

Think about picking up a thermos designed to keep your food warm. Hubby uses this Thermos brand King Food Jar throughout the winter for soups, stews, and casseroles. 

It's extremely simple to use. 

You just pour boiling water into the thermos and let it sit for 5 minutes, then carefully fill the jar with your hot luncheon treat. Food stays warm for several hours. In fact, when hubby doesn't have time to stop for lunch, his soup is still warm when he gets home at 5 o'clock!

Most people will start out taking a nice lettuce salad to work, but just like bacon and eggs, salad can become boring really fast if you don't perk it up. Take a good look at the acceptable foods list and think about foods that will taste good if eaten cold

Bread substitutes simply take a bit of creativity.

Try making sandwiches out of one-minute muffins or Dr. Atkins original Revolution Rolls.

And don't forget that you can simply put your lunch meat, lettuce, and tomato inside 2 slices of cheese with a little mayo or mustard for a faux sandwich. 

Cheese makes a great substitute for bread when you're on Atkins Induction. You can also put your sandwich meat on the outside and your lettuce and tomato inside. Just make sure you pack plenty of napkins!
  • cold sesame chicken wings
  • grilled chicken breast, cut into strips for easy handling
  • cold meat and cheese, like ham and cheddar cubes
  • raw veggies served with Ranch dressing
  • broccoli salad with mayo, bacon bits, and bright peppers
  • tuna or chicken salad with bacon and jalapeno
  • cucumber slices marinated in vinegar, water, and sugar substitute
  • chicken nuggets or strips with homemade dip
  • bean salad with green beans (extended Induction folks can use organic black soybeans)
  • cole slaw with green onions and garlic
  • slices of avocado
You can also tuck a few of the breakfast ideas above in your lunchbox too. 
  • lettuce wraps
  • ham rolls
  • hot wings are great eaten cold
  • dill pickles and olives
  • cold meat balls
  • leftover chicken or other meats
  • hard-boiled eggs or deviled eggs
  • taco soup
make easy lunchbox ideas. 

A lot of people doing Atkins fry up bacon a pound at a time and then take it to work and eat it cold.

Dinner Ideas for Atkins Induction


Kabobs: chicken, sausage, zucchini, onions, bell peppers
Easy Low-Carb Kabobs:
Chicken, Sausage, Zucchini,
 Onion, Bell Peppers
Dinner can be the easiest place to come up with low-carb ideas, but don't make the mistake of falling into a rut. 

Grilled meat, a lettuce salad, and a steamed veggie makes an easy, quick meal, but if you eat like that every single day, your low-carb diet will get old very quickly.

Take a look at the type of foods you used to eat for dinner and see if there are ways you can convert those recipes into a great low-carb meal idea. If you need help making the conversions, check out our article on the easiest way to go low carb.

Hot Wings: 



Place of Hot Wings


Hot wings are the gold standard for many people on Atkins. They are super easy to make yourself. Just bake the chicken wings until they are nice and crispy, then toss them into an easy-to-make low-carb hot wing sauce. 

Hot Tip: Turn the wings over several times while they bake, so they brown more evenly. You'll also have less of a mess to clean up afterward if you bake them on non-stick foil or a rack.

To make the spicy sauce, combine:
You can add additional ground red pepper if you like yours super hot. If you toss the wings back into the oven for a few more minutes after coating them with the sauce, and the wings will take on a nice caramelized sheen.

Pizza: 


Pizza crust on Atkins Induction can be made by patting a thin layer of ground beef or turkey into the bottom of a lightly greased pan. Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes. Spread with a little bit of pizza sauce, and then top it with your normal pizza toppings, such as:
  • pepperoni
  • bell peppers
  • olives
  • mushrooms
  • mozzarella cheese
Bake it a second time to get everything nice and melted. 

You can also leave out the crust completely if you want to. Put pizza sauce in the bottom of your pan, add your toppings, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, and bake until bubbly.

Chicken Nuggets and Strips:


Put a bag of pork rinds in the blender, a couple of hand fulls at a time, and crush them up. If you want to avoid the mess, you can also purchase the pork rinds ground upMix in a little bit of Parmesan cheese and any fried-chicken type spices you like. 

Use that mixture to make great chicken nuggets or chicken strips. 

Dip your chicken pieces into an egg mixed with a little heavy cream. Roll the nuggets or strips in the crumbly mixture, and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Pork chops or fish are also good made this way, but you'll want to make sure that you bake the pork for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

Shish Kabobs: 



Shish Kabobs Low-Carb Style: Sausage, Onion, Bell Peppers


Kabobs make a tasty, unique low-carb meal. 

Just thread a variety of meats and vegetables onto a set of metal skewers, top with a little homemade low-carb barbecue sauce, a nice Italian dressing, or a maple cinnamon sauce. Then, bake, barbecue, or broil until the meats and veggies are as done as you like them. 

We particularly like:
  • chicken cubes
  • sausage chunks
  • zucchini squash
  • onion
  • bell peppers
Shrimp can be a bit tricky because it tends to overcook but bacon, olives, cherry tomatoes, and whole mushroom caps also make a nice presentation.

Chili: 


For a cold winter evening, nothing hits the spot like a warm bowl of chili. 

On Atkins Induction, you'll have to skip the beans, but other than that, you can just make chili the old fashioned way with lots of:
  • ground beef or beef cubes
  • canned or fresh chunked tomatoes
  • chopped onions
  • green or black sliced olives
  • plenty of spices
Later on, after you move into the Ongoing Weight Loss phase, Phase 2, you can add some canned organic black soybeans to the mixture. 

Organic black soybeans are super high in fiber, resulting in only 1 net carb per half a cup of beans. Out of the can, they can be a bit crunchy. 

To fix that:

Cook them in the crockpot for several hours before adding them to your chili. They will be super soft and taste just like traditional black beans. 

Grilled Chicken Breast with Bacon: 


I don't remember what our local restaurant used to call this, but when the waitress heard that I was on Atkins, she brought me out a special treat. She had the cook grill up a nice, piece of chicken breast, and then she topped it with:
  • sauteed mushrooms
  • grilled white onions
  • large pieces of bacon
  • lots of grated cheese melted over the top
It was absolutely heavenly!

Chicken Parmesan: 


Fill a baking dish with pieces of chicken breast. Top each piece of chicken with a little spaghetti sauce, and bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and return to the oven for a couple more minutes, just until the cheese melts. 

Alternatively, you can also simmer the chicken in a frying pan with the spaghetti sauce, turning it occasionally, and sprinkling the cheese on top just before serving. 

I've also made this using leg quarters in the crockpot.

Meatloaf: 

Basic Meatloaf with Sauce
 Basic Meatloaf
(Photo: JeffreyW CC BY 2.0)

You don't need:
  • bread crumbs
  • cracker crumbs
  • oatmeal
to pull off a great tasting meatloaf. The eggs you add are enough to bind it all together, provided you use a fatty grade of ground meat or mix in some spicy sausage. However, you can get the same effect as bread crumbs by simply substituting a nice handful of zero-carb pork rind crumbs.

Experiment with:
  • different herbs and spices
  • minced dried onions
  • grated cheese
  • chopped olives
  • grated veggies like zucchini
The dried onions do have carbs, so check the label, measure them carefully, and add the carb amount to your daily total. Someone at the Keto SubReddit was using minced dried onions without counting the carbohydrates and ended up going into a lengthy stall!

My grandmother used to put bits of dill pickle in her meatloaf. A nice topping can be made by mixing together sugar-free catsup with some cinnamon, but you'll have to measure and count the carbs for both the catsup and cinnamon, as well.

King's Burger: 


Another local restaurant used to serve something called a King's Burger. I simply ordered it without the bun. It was a hamburger patty topped with a slice of ham, a fried egg, and melted cheese. I was shocked at just how good this was!

Chicken Alfredo: 


Alfredo sauce is an easy low-carb sauce. 

All you need is:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the cream cheese, smashing it around the pan a little bit. When partially melted, add the heavy cream. Cook and stir until the sauce is nice and smooth. Add 1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese or 1/2 cup dried Parmesan cheese, the type that comes in a can or jar. Stir until well melted. 

To make the chicken, simply place a bag of frozen broccoli in the bottom of your bake dish. Top with slices of chicken. Cover with the Alfredo sauce. Bake at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes.

Snack Ideas for Atkins Induction


Bowl of Guacamole
Guacamole with Pork Rinds
Nothing will kill a diet faster than going hungry, so one or two snacks per day are highly encouraged on Atkins Induction. 

The first two weeks are not about weight loss, so don't be afraid to eat until you're full and satisfied. Once you go into the state of ketosis, your appetite will go down naturally. There is plenty of time after you leave Phase 1 to experiment with dialing in your macros.
  • celery stuffed with cream cheese and minced green onions
  • deviled eggs
  • egg salad with minced olives
  • guacamole with pork rinds
  • diet soda with a little heavy cream
  • boiled ham stuffed with dill pickle spear and rolled up
  • raw veggies with Ranch Dressing
  • canned tuna mixed with mayo and jalapeno
  • leftover chicken legs
  • cold hot wings
  • cold jalapeno poppers
  • warm vegetable or chicken-vegetable soup


Cheese Chips: 


If you're missing potato chips and want something crispy to use with salsa, homemade dips, or guacamole, other than pork rinds, you can make another low-carb standby: 

cheese chips

Take a slice of real American Cheese (the type that comes unwrapped, such as Kraft Deluxe or that huge brick of sliced American Cheese that Costco sells), and cut it into 9 squares. Place each square on a piece of parchment. Carefully transfer the parchment to a paper plate. Nuke for about 1 minute or so. 

The cheese will puff up into crackers as it cooks and will get crisp as they cool down. Don't remove them from the parchment until they cool enough to stay together when you pick them up.

Just as you don't have to eat breakfast foods for breakfast, you don't have to eat snack-type foods for snacks either.
  • leftovers
  • a lettuce salad
  • hot wings
  • a slice of cold meatloaf
  • some diet gelatin with whipped cream
All make easy low-carb snacks. Absolutely anything that is on the acceptable foods list for Atkins Induction can be turned into a snack.

Check Out a Few Low-Carb Recipe Sites


A low-carb diet isn't the same without a few standard recipes such as hot wings, hot poppers, a nice chicken Alfredo, or a terrific bowl of ham and vegetable soup. Those things will make Atkins Induction feel more like a luxury than a diet.

Also, check out a few great low-carb recipe sites, such as Linda's Low Carb Recipes. Many low-carb recipe sites will indicate which recipes are suitable for Induction.

Make it a priority to visit low-carb forums and check out their recipe section. Most forums also have special threads for kitchen tips where you can ask questions and learn about the oddities of low-carb cooking and baking.

While you're looking around for great low-carb recipe ideas, don't forget to check out our own recipes section here at Kickin' Carb Clutter. I'll be adding to it in the days ahead, so you'll want to check back often.

Another blog post you might be interested in is How to Get into Ketosis in Less Than 3 Days. It includes a sample 3-day 1972 Induction Diet as an example. 

You might also want to check out the 7-Day Ketogenic Diet Menu for Atkins Induction or the article on Induction and Phase 2 Templates for more specific examples of what you can eat during the first 14 days of your low-carb diet. 

And while you're at it, make sure you are using these 5 Fail Proof Methods to Keep You on Track during that Induction period.

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