The first phase of the Atkins Diet Plan, the Induction Phase, is undoubtedly the hardest for most people to follow. In this phase you really cut the carbs. The objective is transforming the body’s energy source from burning carbs to burning fat. Simply put, you are allowed 20 grams of net carbs per day. Net carbs are the total carbohydrate intake minus the carbs contained in fiber, sugar alcohol, and glycerine. Because those carbs aren’t digested they don’t count. If your vegetable serving contains 5 grams of carbs but 2 of those grams come from fiber, then only 3 grams of carbs actually count.
So what can you eat during this stage of the Atkins Diet Plan? First come the proteins. Most protein food is in. For example, this means you can load up on eggs, meat, and seafood. But there are exceptions. You can’t eat breaded meats such as veal schnitzel or meat loaf. I don’t usually think of bacon and eggs as a diet food, but this combination is sort of OK. You must hold the toast and jelly, perhaps the coffee, the orange juice, and the hash browns (the onions are OK but not the potatoes). Can we still call such a breakfast bacon and eggs?
Some vegetables are OK; others are not. Be careful to count your vegetable carbohydrates as most of your carbs come from the veggies. Here is a list of permitted vegetables in approximate order of carbohydrate contents, starting with the lowest: Bean or alfalfa sprouts, greens such as lettuce, spinach, radicchio, and endives, herbs, celery, radishes, cabbage (or sauerkraut), mushrooms, avocado, cucumbers, asparagus, green and wax beans, broccoli, cauliflower, green, red, and jalapeno peppers, summer squash (including zucchini), green onions, leeks, brussels sprouts, snow peas, tomatoes, eggplant, artichoke hearts, onions, okra, spaghetti squash, carrots, turnips, water chestnuts, and pumpkins.
Most cheeses have less than a gram of carbohydrate per ounce, but make sure to check the labels. You are allowed 3 to 4 ounces of low-carb cheese but no cottage cheese or other fresh cheese except for cream cheese.
The Atkins Diet is low-carb. Don’t try to make it low-fat as well. Make sure to eat lots of cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel in part because of their Omega-3 fatty acids. You may go for eggs that also contain high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. Virgin and extra-virgin olive oil are fine. Stir-fry those permitted vegetables in canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil, especially if they are cold-pressed. High-oleic sunflower and safflower oils are OK; otherwise avoid these oils. Use full-fat mayonnaise, preferably based on the oils. Butter is OK as is trans-fat free margarine. You may even have two or three tablespoons of heavy cream or an ounce of sour cream per day. For a real treat have a dozen olives. You may also use Metamucil or flax seed meal to increase your fiber intake.
Drink lots of water. The recommended amount is 8 8-ounce glasses a day. You may drink soda water or carbonated water provided that it doesn’t include any sugar. Diet sodas with sucralose (Splenda) are OK. No sugar means no fruit juices. Herbal teas are in as are decaffeinated coffee or tea. Can you drink real coffee or other caffeine beverages? That depends on you; it may slow your weight loss.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian, French, or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and spend time with his wife and family. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his site devoted to the weight-management, nutritional, and health aspects of wine at http://www.wineinyourdiet.com. Check out his global wine website at http://www.theworldwidewine.com with his new weekly column reviewing wines.