The Atkins diet promotes the reduction of carbohydrates, along with an increase in protein and fat intake. Initially, the plan excludes any higher-carb foods, including fruits and some vegetables, though these can be gradually reintroduced in moderation over time. Atkins is usually advocated as a weight-loss plan, though the amount of weight you can lose on it depends on several factors, including your adherence to the plan, your starting point and what phase you're in.
Entering the Induction
The induction phase is the most strict stage in the Atkins diet but is also the time when you'll lose the most weight. During the induction, you're limited to 20 grams of net carbs per day -- net carbs being your total carb intake minus your fiber intake. According to dietitian Juliette Kellow, you can expect to lose between 6 and 10 pounds in the first two weeks of the induction phase. This is because your body is switching from burning carbs for fuel to burning fat. This results in a loss of glycogen within the muscle cells and liver, which also reduces water weight, giving fairly rapid weight loss.
Ongoing Weight Loss
After at least two weeks in the induction phase, you move on to the ongoing weight loss phase. This involves increasing your net carb intake by 5 grams per day until you find the appropriate daily carb intake for you to lose weight. Kellow notes that you'll probably lose between 1 and 3 pounds per week in this stage.
Maintaining for Life
The premaintenance phase is the third stage of the Atkins diet. The Atkins website recommends that you should start premaintenance when you have just 10 pounds to lose to get to your goal weight. After you've lost this 10 pounds, you ease into the maintenance or lifetime phase, where the goal is to stay within 5 pounds of your ideal weight. You may lose a little weight or even gain a little over time, but the goal should be to stay within this 5-pound buffer.
While you may lose weight quickly during the first phase of Atkins, this can largely be due to the water and glycogen loss, not necessarily fat loss. Additionally, once you're past the induction phase, if you're eating too many calories -- even if your carb intake is still low -- you can actually gain weight. Gaining weight requires a calorie surplus, where you eat more than you burn, which is perfectly possible eating Atkins-approved foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts and oils.