Atkins Induction & Diarrhea

The Atkins diet comprises four distinct phases. The induction phase is the first one, followed by the ongoing weight loss phase, the pre-maintenance phase and the lifelong maintenance phase. The induction phase is the stricter phase, restricting the daily carbohydrate to 20 grams or less. While the body adapts to this new macronutrient mix, some side effects may be experienced.

A plate of bacon and eggs. (Image: DamianPalus/iStock/Getty Images)

Foods To Avoid

During the induction phase, carbohydrates are severely limited. Therefore, a lot of foods commonly present in traditional American diets are eliminated. The foods to avoid during the induction phase include bread, pasta, rice, couscous, potatoes, breakfast cereals, granola bars, oatmeal, muffins, baked goods, fruits, juices, milk, yogurt, sugary beverages, sugar, candies and desserts. These carbohydrate-rich foods provide more than half of the calories for most Americans and eliminating them can induce carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms for the body.

Foods To Eat

The acceptable foods list encourages the consumption of generous servings of protein-rich foods, such as fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey, pork, ham, bacon, beef, cheese and eggs. Protein can be served with non-starchy vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, spinach, cabbage, eggplants mushrooms and limited amounts of tomatoes, as well as good sources of fat, which include butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, olive oil, coconut oil and salad dressing containing less than 3 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Herbs and spices can also be added without any problem during the induction phase.

Diarrhea Causes

Constipation is a common problem for dieters starting the induction phase of the Atkins diet, although some people may experience diarrhea. Constipation is usually due to a lower fiber intake and dehydration, whereas diarrhea is often caused by a lactose intolerance or higher fat intake. The induction phase promotes the consumption of large quantities of cheese and cream, which can cause diarrhea. Other people may experience diarrhea because of the higher fat content of the Atkins diet. Diarrhea is often observed in dieters previously following a low-fat diet because the body has not been used to secrete the adequate amount of enzymes required to digest fat.

Diarrhea Treatment

There are two main treatments for those experiencing diarrhea when starting the induction phase of the Atkins diet. The first thing to do is to eliminate dairy products, such as cheese and cream, to see if things get better. Sometimes, adding unsweetened psyllium husks may help to slow down the intestinal transit time and alleviate diarrhea. Alternatively, it could be due to a higher fat intake, for which your body needs some time to adjust. Try cutting back on your fat consumption and increase it gradually. If you experience diarrhea, stay hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.

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