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Foods to Avoid on the Atkins Diet

author image Julie Boehlke
Julie is an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves to camp with friends and family. Julie spends her free time writing, working on her novel and brewing up new recipes of wine—her newest hobby. She enjoys scouring junk shops and antique boutiques in search of rare finds and one of-a-kind treasures. She collects vintage dishes and antiquarian books. Julie spends her days being followed around aimlessly by her most adoring fan—Mushu the pug. She ventures out on weekends to the remote trails and deep north woods of Michigan. Julie also enjoys exploring out of the way nooks and crannies along the great lakes shoreline.

The Atkins diet was developed in 1972 By Robert Atkins. He discovered a way that someone can eat strictly cheeses, meats and their byproducts and lose weight. The only catch is that the dieter initially restrict their carbohydrate intake and then gradually begin to add good carbs. There are four main phases of the Atkins diet—induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance and lifetime maintenance. The goal is to initially get the body into a state of ketosis in which the body begins to burn its own fat for fuel. For the diet to work properly, there are some foods to avoid.


Foods that are starchy and high in carbohydrates should be completely avoided in most phases of the Atkins diet. These include rice, pastas, whole grains and beans. Most of these foods contain a total carbohydrate count of over 20g per serving. In the beginning of the Atkins diet, dieters are not allowed to have more than 20g of carbs for the entire day. The reason for eliminating starches is that it raises the body's glycemic index and leads to unstable blood sugar levels.


Vegetables are always a healthy choice. With the beginning stages of the Atkins diet, including induction and ongoing weight loss, vegetables should be eaten in extreme moderation—still under 20g per day. Even at a low carb intake, there are still some to avoid completely on the Atkins diet. These include cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, onion, avocado, collard greens, bamboo shoots, okra, beets, water chestnuts, wax beans, spinach, carrots and celery.

Processed Foods

Processed foods should be avoided completely when on the Atkins diet—except for the Atkins brand of packaged foods and snacks. Processed foods are generally high in sugars, fat and starches. Examples of processed foods to avoid may include potato chips, cookies, candies, ice cream and crackers. Breaded foods should also be avoided. They include sugars, flours and starches that will halt the fat-burning process. Examples of this may be deep-fried breaded chicken, corn dogs and breaded vegetables.


Breads are not acceptable at any point in the Atkins phase. There are some Atkins-approved breads that are made from flax seed and other ingredients that can be substituted for flour and whole grain breads—but they should be consumed in moderation as part of ongoing weight loss. Breads including white, whole wheat, muffins, cupcakes and cakes should all be avoided throughout the Atkins plan.


Sugar cravings are what the diet is designed to combat and ward off. The diet is based on helping the dieter curb his addiction to sugar and simple carbohydrates. While the diet plan itself tells the dieter not to look at sugar count—just the carb count, sugars should mainly be avoided. Sugared sodas and juice can be substituted for diet soda, tea and coffee. Instead of reaching for a slice of cherry pie, a sugar-free jello makes a wise substitution because it contains no carbs.

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