How Much Weight Can You Lose on Atkins Induction?

Tuna Salad in Avocado
What can you expect to lose during
Phase 1 of Atkins?

If you're new to a low-carb diet, you might be wondering how much weight you can actually lose on Atkins Induction. If so, then you could be in for a pleasant surprise. The testimonials attached to Keto often share how you can lose up to 15 pounds, or more, in just two weeks.

But is that true?

For those who are overweight or obese, the testimonials can be quite attractive, but there's a catch . . .

In 1975, I lost 5 pounds per week, every single week, even though I was returning 5 to 8 total carbs per day to my daily diet, week after week. Later on, when I returned to Atkins at the end of 1999, I lost 2 to 3 pounds per week. And then, in 2007, weight loss on Induction dropped to less than 1/2 a pound per week.

The amount of "weight" you can lose during the first 14 days depends on how much glycogen you have stored in your liver and muscles (the storage form of carbohydrates), whether you're eating foods you are sensitive to, and if you're suffering from some degree of water retention due to insufficient protein intake.

Calorie intake matters during those first few days, as well, and so does your general health condition.

Just how overweight are you?

Those with stubbornly high insulin levels or diabetes might not lose as much as those who don't have insulin resistance because the body will attempt to heal itself before it lets go of a lot of body fat.

In addition, whether you're taking any medications (including vitamins or supplements), have a yeast imbalance, thyroid problems, intestinal issues, or a history of yo-yo dieting like I did, also matters. Even responsible dieting can affect the outcome on low carb.

Nothing is automatic when it comes to pinpointing exactly how much weight you can lose on Atkins Induction, so in this post, we're going to cut through the outlandish claims and offer you a reality check.

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What is the 6-Fold Purpose of Atkins Induction?

Induction is the first phase of the Atkins Nutritional Approach to weight loss, but losing weight is only a very small part of Phase 1. Induction is designed to set up the metabolic conditions needed to get the body to burn fats for fuel, instead of glucose, so its 6-fold purpose is different from the later phases.

Weight loss plays a very small role in what's going on during the first two weeks. You need to know that going in, so you won't be disappointed in case you don't lose as much weight as thought you were going to.

The whole idea behind Phase 1 of the Atkins Plan is to "induce" weight loss by changing your body's chemistry, so you can see how effortless fat loss can be long-term. It's like an ignition switch. It sets up the body to get the fires burning. And that takes time.

Here is the 6-fold purpose of Atkins Induction:
  1. Efficiently switch your physical body from predominantly burning glucose for fuel to a metabolism that prefers to burn fatty acids and ketones instead.
  2. Stabilize blood glucose, thereby correcting many of the uncomfortable symptoms that are associated with unstable blood glucose level.
  3. Curb your cravings and reduce hunger.
  4. Break your addiction to foods that generally cause people to overeat, such as wheat, sugar, and corn.
  5. Let you experience a metabolic advantage. (This doesn't occur for everyone, unfortunately, and might be totally non-existent if you've done low-carb before.)
  6. Demonstrate that you can lose body fat while eating well.
When evaluating your results on how well you're doing on Atkins Induction, consider all the changes you are experiencing, and not just what the scale says. The scale will be deceptive. Most of what you'll lose during the first two weeks is just water and glycogen.

Very little body fat comes off at first, until ketone production has accelerated and the body gives up its first plan of oxidizing amino acids for energy. Losing body fat is the true goal, so don't lose site of that during the first couple of weeks.

How Much Weight Can You Expect to Lose on Induction?

Expectations are not really a wise idea because they set you up for disappointment and hurt if you can't live up to them. Comparisons are also tricky because they often result in guilt or feelings of insecurity, but the following chart can give you a rough idea of what could happen during Phase 1.

The chart pinpoints your metabolic resistance to weight loss, according to Dr. Atkins perspective.

It uses how much weight you lost during the first 14 days of Atkins Induction and makes a determination about your individual resistance. The numbers are based on the data Dr. Atkins collected from his patients, and so they are an average of what you can reasonable expect to lose:

Chart: How Much Weight You Can Lose on Atkins Induction

Notice that in Dr. Atkins opinion, you could reasonably expect to lose 4 to 12 pounds, depending on gender and degree of metabolic resistance to weight loss. This doesn't mean that you will lose that much weight. The above chart is only a rough guide that tells you how concerned your body is about the weight you're losing.

It's relatively rare for the body to freak out right away and slam on the breaks, but I'm beginning to see this happen to newbies more and more as the years go by.

The more concerned your body is about weight loss, the less you will lose during Induction. The less concerned your body is about dropping a few pounds, the more you can lose before your body catches on to the calorie and carb deprivation.

This is why your prior dieting experience is a huge factor in what you can expect to lose on a low-carb diet. The body always sees dieting as a famine situation, no matter what type of diet you're following, so eventually, the body is going to start adapting to what you're doing.

Previous adaptions to dieting will kick in faster, due to body memory, than it will if your body has to figure out what to do right now. Patterns of dieting will kick in even faster because that's what the body will expect you to do again -- follow the pattern.

In Dr. Atkins opinion, the degree of resistance corresponds to the degree of lipolysis. Lipolysis is fat burning, so how easily your body upregulates the enzymes needed to burn fatty acids for fuel is going to be a huge factor in how quickly body fat comes off.

The more fat in your diet, the more enzymes you'll need to oxidize the fat. And even though this upregulation is automatic, and occurs within a couple of days, some people have genetic defects that limit the amount of upregulation, which can be problematic if you're eating huge amounts of dietary fats.

Like anything else, low-carb diets are extremely individual and must be tailored to fit your genetics, likes, health conditions, and activity level.

Best Not to Worry About Weight Until After Induction is Over

I realize this is difficult to do. Most people go on low carb because they want to lose weight, and not because they want to improve their health condition. Although, low carb is becoming more and more acceptable for diabetics today and is also a good choice for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

But it's extremely important that you understand that low carb uses a totally different metabolic pathway than a standard low-calorie diet does, and it takes time for the body to make the switch to burning fatty acids efficiently.

And efficiently is the key word here.

For low-carb diets to work well, you need to do what it takes to help your body become fat adapted. This means your body will prefer to burn fatty acids over glucose. The longer you stay on a low-carb diet, the better your body will get at burning fats for fuel, so it's wise to not rush the process.

I always recommend that you don't weigh yourself during Induction because the scale only gets in the way. Eat when you're hungry and don't eat when you're not.

Wait a full 14 days before you look at what your body is doing.

Give yourself time to adjust to the radical changes in food choices. For many people, the drastic reduction in carbohydrates will be stressful enough. And stress can actually prevent you from losing body fat due to the chemical imbalance it causes.

Also, make sure that you're drinking plenty of water and getting an adequate amount of sodium. Give the Atkins Diet time to work before you start messing with anything. Low carb is a journey. It never ends, so it's best to just sit back and enjoy the ride.


  1. I have just hit my 100th pound lost following your blog! I feel amazing...thank you thank you! I have zero carb or sugar cravings and more energy at 46 uears old than I had at 26!!

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing that with me. I am so glad to hear that you have been so successful. Losing 100 pounds is a major accomplishment! Keep up the good work!

  2. Hi Vickie, so glad to have found you. I started on my low carb journey a week ago. Its my first time. I am not sure if I am in ketosis yet (I don't think I have lost any weight, don't have scales actually but visually I am the same). It helps to read that it takes time because I did think I should have some results. I have been fasting 12-14 hours too. i did notice the weird urine smell so I'm crossing my fingers things will start to happen soon! I'm really enjoying your blog, thank you.

    1. You're welcome. I am a very slow loser, have been back on Induction levels for a month, and my clothes still fit the same, so I understand how frustrating it can be. If you're getting the smell, then you're definitely in ketosis. Were you fasting "before" you started low carb?

    2. Hi Vickie, no I was not fasting before starting this. Should I get the keto sticks to test myself? Do you think I will suddenly start to lose weight further down the track? It's day 10, I'm pretty sure I am eating under the 20g carbs a day.

    3. A lot of people see results in how their clothes fit before they start to see major drops on the scale. I've been eating 20 carbs for about 2 months now and I've only lost about 10 pounds. It just depends on how much resistance you body decides to put up. Newbies typically drop lots of weight in the beginning.


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