The induction phase of the Atkins Diet is the strictest part of the program. For the initial two weeks, you're instructed to keep your total daily carbohydrate intake between 12 to 15 net carbs, not counting fiber. Though you can eat any foods on the acceptable list at any time of the day, the Atkins Diet recommends three to five equally sized meals during the day without going more than six hours without eating.
Each dinner during the induction phase should include 4 to 8 oz. of protein. This can come from any fish, fowl, shellfish or meat, or you can eat an unlimited number of eggs in any style--but watch out for cheese or sauces. While it's not required that you choose leans types of protein, or even trim the fat away from the protein you choose, many dieters will prefer skinless chicken or fish for their protein source because of the lower fat content.
Contrary to popular belief, you are encouraged to eat vegetables on the Atkins Diet, even during the Atkins induction phase. Of the 12 to 15 net carbs you eat daily, most of these should come from vegetables. Vegetables on the acceptable food list for the induction phase include lettuce, peppers, arugula, radishes, cucumber, celery, bok choy and alfalfa sprouts. Acceptable vegetables with somewhat higher carbohydrate content include broccoli, asparagus, artichoke, eggplant, spinach, peas, squash and zucchini.
Another common myth about the Atkins Diet is that you can eat all the cheese you want. Actually, most cheese contains some carbohydrates, so eat it in moderation. Cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, blue cheese, feta, Parmesan and Swiss are all on the acceptable foods list for the induction phase and can be added to your dinner, in moderation.
Herbs and Spice
As long as they do not contain sugar, you can use most herbs and spices to prepare your induction phase dinners. Garlic and ginger do contain net carbs, so count these towards your daily total intake. Otherwise, you can use basil, cayenne pepper, cilantro, dill, oregano, pepper, rosemary, sage and tarragon as desired.
Sauces and Dressings
Sauces, dressings and similar extras are an easy place for overlooked carbohydrates to sneak into your diet and thwart your induction phase goals. Butter and vegetable oils contain no carbs, but should be used in moderation because of their high fat content. Sour cream has more than one carb per 2 oz. serving, as do most salad dressings. Two ounces of salad dressing can have anywhere from one to three net carbs. Caesar dressing is an exception with just 0.5g of carbs in 2 oz. With all dressings and sauces, check the labels to ensure accurate counting and avoid those with added sugars.
Water is the best beverage for the induction phase. You can keep it interesting by having club soda, seltzer water or tea. Avoid flavoring your beverage with lemon, sugar or honey. If you have a diet soft drink, check the label for net carbs. You may not drink any alcohol during the two-week induction phase.