The Atkins website says that it is a common misconception that the two-week induction phase of the diet represents the whole Atkins diet. Induction, or phase 1, is only one of four steps designed to first accelerate weight loss, then to maintain weight loss and finally to maintain your ideal weight. The initial 14-day phase 1 diet gets you started.
The purpose of phase I is to make your body shift gears from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat for energy---both your body fat and what you consume. Your body turns carbs into glucose or sugar. Atkins says your body will look for an alternate source of energy if it can't fuel itself with glucose because you haven't given it any, or at least not enough to keep it going.
The most important rule for the 14-day induction plan is that you restrict yourself to 20 g of carbohydrates per day. This doesn't mean you can have a bite of pasta then eat red meat for the balance of your meals. The Atkins site says that "foundation" vegetables should account for 12 to 15 carbs per day. These include salad vegetables, such as cucumbers, iceberg and romaine lettuce, radishes, mushrooms and celery. Dressing is limited to a tablespoon of safflower or canola oil, olive oil, seed oils or nut oils per serving. Other rules include never skipping meals and aiming for four to five small ones a day. Drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day.
According to Atkins, it should take approximately two weeks to kick-start your body into burning fat instead of carbs. You can move on to phase 2 more quickly or stay in the induction phase longer than 14 days if you choose. If you're not looking to lose a great deal of weight and you do it quickly, you can move on. Just make sure that you have started to burn fat for energy. Atkins says the evidence of this is the loss of at least 2 lbs. If you need to lose a great deal of weight, you can stay on the 14-day phase longer. Atkins says that there are no risks to staying on the induction diet indefinitely, but you will eventually want to start adding carbs back into your diet incrementally so you will know how many carbs a day your body can tolerate without gaining weight. You can use this knowledge to maintain your ideal weight.
The website The-Atkins-Diet.info warns that it will take up to a week for the sugar to leave your system. This might result in headaches and a fuzzy feeling, as well as diarrhea or nausea. The Atkins Diet Advisor site says that you also might experience crankiness, or constipation if you skimp on liquids. All of these symptoms should be short-term.
The-Atkins-Diet.info predicts that you will drop 10 percent of your desired weight loss during this 14-day period. Atkins says that once you start losing, the pounds should come off rapidly.