How Many Carbs Can You Have on Each of the Stages of Atkins?

The Atkins Diet was formulated in 1972 by cardiologist Robert C. Atkins and Western Michigan University notes that it is based on the idea that consumption of excessive carbohydrates causes obesity. The diet shifts attention from carbohydrates and stresses incorporating more protein and healthy fats in the diet. The Atkins Diet consists of four stages: Induction, Ongoing Weight Loss, Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance. Consult your doctor before starting any diet to avoid any health complications.

People are eating low carbohydrate meals on the table. (Image: yacobchuk/iStock/Getty Images)

Carbohydrates in Phase One

The Induction Phase is the strictest phase in the Atkins Diet. Your intake of carbohydrates is restricted to 20 grams per day. The carbohydrates you do consume during this phase should mainly be from non-starchy vegetables. The recommended time span of the Induction Phase is two weeks and it aims at transitioning the body to derive energy from fat rather than carbohydrates. Avoid carbohydrates from grains, breads, starchy vegetables, fruits, nuts, sweet baked goods, alcohol, candy and pastas in the Induction Phase.

Carbohydrates in Phase Two

Increase the target daily carbohydrate intake by 5 grams each week in the second phase of the Atkins Diet, the Ongoing Weight Loss phase. Strictly avoid simple carbohydrates, like pastries, white bread, refined pasta and white rice. The objective of this phase is to learn how food groups affect craving control. The first week involves increased intake of acceptable vegetables. Each week, increase the amount and type of carbohydrates, including acceptable vegetables in increased quantities, fresh cheese, nuts and seeds, berries, alcohol, legumes, certain fruits and whole grains.

Carbohydrates in Phase Three

The Pre-Maintenance Phase, the third phase of the Atkins Diet, begins when you're within 10 pounds of your target weight. The body is meant to be in training to adjust to a low-carbohydrate diet for life to maintain weight loss. Avoid simple carbohydrates, trans fat and sugary products, and add approximately 10 grams of carbohydrates to your diet each week. Decrease your carbohydrate intake if your weight loss stops.

Carbohydrates in Phase Four

The fourth phase, or the Lifetime Maintenance Phase, aims at maintaining the diet habits you learned in previous phases. Restrict your daily carbohydrate intake to approximately 45 to 100 grams per day. You should still restrict high-sugar desserts, trans fats, excessive alcohol and simple carbohydrates. Atkins suggests that if you are active and exercise a minimum of one hour per day, you may be able to increase your carbohydrate intake.

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