Why You Need an Atkins Diet Food List

How to use the Atkins Diet Food List

delicous low carb meal
A delicious meal with eggs, bacon and salad

Trust me, I know how difficult it can be to lose weight, I’ve been there. I understand that when all you want to do is lose weight fast and safely, you don’t want to be bombarded with irrelevant or misleading information.

All you really need is a simple food list that tells you what foods you can eat and what foods you can’t.
We all know that you need a balanced diet of healthy foods to lose weight, but sometimes it’s difficult to know where to begin.
If you work all week, and also run a busy home, then the last thing you want when you’re buying the weekly food shop is to be sidetracked. Having to think about what you need to buy for your weight loss plan as well as for the rest of the family is an inconvenience you could do without.
You just want a clear and simple list with diet food – so that selecting the right foods becomes second nature to you, and something you don’t have to keep worrying about.
After all, life is complicated enough already!
Which is the whole reason why I have put together this site.

Why diet in the first place?

Being overweight can quickly become overwhelming. There is a huge emotional factor that can’t be underestimated.
Your whole life can become completely consumed first by your unhealthy relationship with food, and then by your desire to change it.
Once you’ve made the decision, if you are anything like me, you’ll probably find you want to find fast ways to lose weight, and will start looking for easy weight loss diets. But these quick fix diets aren’t as easy to follow as the Atkins.
It may sound like a cliché, but when I first started out on the Atkins diet I really was at rock bottom. After the birth of my second child the baby weight just didn’t disappear, in fact more fat just kept creeping on until I had ballooned.

shopping list for low carb food
Shopping list for low carb food

I felt that my life was spiraling out of control – even just thinking about starting a diet had me breaking down in tears. I couldn’t face the prospect of failing again.
My moment of clarity came when I went on a trip to the funfair with my eldest son – he wanted to ride on the roller-coaster, it was his first time and he was so excited, but when the safety bar came down it wouldn’t fit over me. We both had to get out of the car in front of everyone – people I knew and who my son went to school with. Humiliating (for me and for him) is an understatement.

So why choose the Atkins diet plan over all the rest?

There are hundreds of diets out there – believe me when I say I think I’ve tried about 90% of them!
The Paleolithic diet, the Special K diet, the yeast free diet, hey I’m even old enough to have tried the F-Plan diet – anyone else remember eating can after can of baked beans?
So this time I wanted a diet that was going to be easy to follow, give fast results and be something I knew I could stick to in the long term. After looking around I decided that The Atkins Nutritional Approach seemed like the best choice for me, and besides I already knew people who had shed tens of pounds by following the healthy diet plans, so I knew it worked.

How does the diet plan work?

If this is your first introduction to the Atkins diet, then you may be asking yourself, what is this diet?
Well, the Atkins diet plan was developed by Dr Robert Atkins way back in 1972. Atkins was a scientist, who was also overweight, and he devised his diet to help himself lose weight, and consequently help millions of other people worldwide to do the same by following the plan and using the food list – a low carb food list and high protein diet plan that guarantees results.
Put simply, tis diet involves limiting your intake of carbohydrates so that your body switches from metabolizing (burning up) glucose and switches over to burning fat in a process called ketosis – so, instead of using carbohydrates for energy your body uses fat.
Digested carbohydrates convert to glucose (sugar), which is transported in your bloodstream. This glucose triggers the release of a hormone called insulin. Glucose can’t be stored in the body so the body uses it for energy first, rather than using fat, which incidentally can be stored in unlimited quantities in the body (mostly on my hips and backside it would seem!).
Atkins argued that rises in insulin levels after a carb-heavy meal causes the blood sugar to fluctuate wildly, giving us short bursts of energy followed by periods of tiredness and hunger, whereas a low carb diet keeps the blood sugar levels more constant and so your energy levels also remain steady.
beef and salad
Eating a diet high in protein, fat and fiber means the body has less glucose to burn first, and so it starts to burn fat instead.
Once your body is using fat as its primary source of energy it will mean that you will start to lose weight.
To get the body into this fat burning mode foods that are high in carbohydrates have to be avoided during the first two weeks of the diet (the induction phase), after which time they are gradually reintroduced. It’s all made a lot easier by using the food list to select the right foods which will induce ketosis, and therefore encourage weight loss.
If you want to know more about the science behind the diet and how it works, then take a look this page, What is the Atkins Diet?

For your motivation, take a look at this short video:

The Four Phases:

The diet is broken down into four distinct phases. These phases are there to ensure that you lose weight fast and safe. It also means that you won’t be on the same restrictive phase forever! The food list for Atkins diet followers explains what you are allowed to eat in each phase.

Phase 1 Induction

This lasts for two weeks and is the most restrictive phase of the whole diet. You eat three main meals a day (or five to six smaller ones if you prefer) choosing items from the Atkins diet food list. There are a few basic rules you must follow.
* You should not go for longer than six waking hours without eating. This means you can choose how many meals a day you will need to have based around your working hours or lifestyle.
* Every meal should be made up of at least 120-180 grams of protein (four to six ounces). See the  foods to eat during the diet induction phase for a list of high protein foods.
* If possible, include one tablespoon of oil, or a pat of butter, on your meat, salad or vegetables at each meal.
* Eat up to 20 grams of net carbohydrates a day from the “Acceptable Foods List”, you can find details of this diet food list below.
* Each day you can also have up to 120 g of cheese, 10 black or 20 green olives, half an avocado, 30 g of sour cream, or two to three tablespoons of cream, and up to three tablespoons of lemon or lime juice.
Avocado i low carb food

* It is recommended that you should drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Make those normal sized or big glasses, not too small.
* You are also advised to take a daily multivitamin tablet and some omega 3 oil (like fish oil or krill oil).
krill oil supplement
There is more detail on this first phase if you go to the Atkins diet induction page.

Phase 2 Ongoing Weight Loss

The OWL phase, where the net carb allowance is gradually increased to a point where weight loss is still ongoing. This is done by increasing your daily net carbs by 5g a day, so that you keep losing weight. If your weight plateaus or you start to put it back on again, you’ve added too many additional carbs!
It’s a balancing game to find out how many carbs your body can take in and still be able to shed fat. You can use the Atkins carb counter to help during this transitional phase.

Phase 3 Pre-maintenance

This phase starts when you are within ten pounds of your goal weight. Once again, you will start to increase your net carb intake as well as introducing extra foods until your weight loss slows and starts to maintain at the same level.

Phase 4 Lifetime maintenance

Here, you commit to a healthy lifestyle to keep the pounds off! You will still need to keep an eye on what you are eating, using the food list and Atkins carb counter will help you to do this.

An “Essentials” Food list for Atkins diet followers

I just wish that someone had written out an food list for me when I first began. Knowing what foods to eat would have made the first month or two a whole lot easier for me.
A trip to the food store would have been a treat and not the chore it would inevitably turn into. I would stand in the aisles and panic, not knowing what foods were on the Atkins diet plan, then I’d pick up what I thought I could eat only to find out when I got home that it was not suitable for Atkins recipes.
Fortunately my steady weight loss kept me going, and I soon got the hang of the Atkins diet menu.
But you don’t have to struggle like I did. I’ve done all the hard work for you, just use the food list for Atkins diet followers that I’ve compiled especially for all of my fellow weight loss friends out there!

Foods to eat during the induction phase

The induction phase lasts for two weeks, it is designed to kick start your body into burning fat. All of the foods below are carb free and can be eaten freely.
* Meat
This means all types of unprocessed meat: beef, pork, lamb, veal, mutton, ostrich, reindeer, crocodile, kangaroo, camel – and anything else you can find at your butchers.
If the meat is processed you will need to check for any added carbohydrate, if you see it listed in the ingredients then either count the carbs or avoid it.
* Fish and shellfish
Any unprocessed. Haddock, tuna, cod, prawns, oysters, lobster, crab – any, yes any fish and shellfish.
* Poultry, fowl and game
Any unprocessed. For example, chicken, turkey, duck, venison, pigeon.
* Fats
Butter. Oils (vegetable and olive). Mayonnaise (with no added sugar).
* Eggs
In any style, scrambled, deviled, fried, poached, boiled, etc. Hen, chicken, goose,duck – all types of eggs are included.
* Cream
Single or double. Use in your coffee instead of milk (you can water it down first if you prefer).
* Drinks
Water, diet tonic, zero calorie flavored waters,tea and coffee. Caffeine should be taken in moderation, and decaffeinated is preferable.
* The following herbs and spices can also be eaten freely (as long as they do not contain sugar):
basil, cayenne pepper, coriander, dill, oregano, pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon.

Foods to limit during induction

The foods on this Atkins diet food list all contain carbohydrates, so they have to be limited. You should aim for 20 g of net carbohydrate per day. And, 12-15g of this should be made up from any of the following salad and vegetables, this is known as the “foundation list”.

Name Portion size Net carbohydrate value (in grams)
Alfalfa sprouts (raw) 6g 0.4g
Artichoke ¼ of medium 4g
Artichoke hearts (canned) 1 1g
Asparagus 6 spears 2.4g
Aubergine(egg plant) 85g 1.8g
Avocado (raw) 1 whole 3.5g
Bamboo shoots (tinned) 60g 1.1g
Bok Choy (raw) 70g 0.8g
Broccoli 80g 1.6g
Broccoflower (romanesco broccoli ) 35g 1.4g
Brussels sprouts 40g 2.4g
Cabbage (raw) 60g 2g
Cauliflower (raw) 60g 1g
Celery 1 stalk 0.8g
Chicory greens (raw) 25g 0.6g
Chives 1 tablespoon 0.1g
Collard greens 55g 4.2g
Courgette (zucchini) 80g 2g
Cucumber 50g 1g
Daikon Radish (mooli) 60g 1g
Endive (escarole) 15g 0g
Fennel 45g 3.6g
Garlic 1 clove 0.9g
Ginger 1 tablespoon sliced root 0.8g
Hearts of palm 1 heart 0.7g
Iceberg lettuce 70g 2.5g
Kale 65g 2.4g
Kohlrabi 85g 4.6g
Leeks 50g 1.7g
Mushrooms 35g 1.2g
Okra 80g 2.4g
Olives (black) 5g 0.7g
Olives (green) 5g 2.5g
Onion (raw) 20g 2.8g
Parsley 1 tablespoon 0.1g
Peas 70g (with pods) 3.4g
Peppers (raw) 50g 2.3g
Pumpkin 60g 2.4g
Radicchio (raw) 35g 0.7g
Radishes (raw) 10g 0.9g
Rhubarb (unsweetened) 120g 1.7g
Rocket (raw) 30g 0.2g
Romaine lettuce 70g 0.2g
Sauerkraut (drained) 70g 1.2g
Spaghetti squash 40g 2g
Spinach (raw) 90g 0.2g
Summer squash 40g 2g
Swiss chard 85g 1.8g
Tomato (raw) 1 4.3g
Turnips 80g 2.2g
Water chestnuts (tinned) 30g 6.9g

Cheese and dairy

Remember that cheese contains carbohydrate. You can have 90-120 g of cheese per day. A 30 g serving of these cheeses contain the following net carbs:
– Blue cheeses (0.7 g)
– Cheddar (0 g)
– Sheep or goat (0.03 g)
– Cream cheese (0.8 g)
– Emmental (1 g)
– Feta (1.2 g)
– Gouda(0.6 g)
– Mozzarella (0.6 g)
– 1 tablespoon portion of parmesan is (0.2 g)
– Two tablespoons sour cream (1.2 g)

Salad dressings

Made without sugar. A two tablespoon serving of each of these contains the following net carbs:
– Blue cheese (2.3 g)
– Caesar (0.5 g)
– Italian (3 g)
– Lemon juice (2.8 g)
– French (1 g)
– Ranch (1.4 g)


– One serving of Splenda is equal to 1 g of net carbs.

Foods to avoid during the induction phase

Remember, you are trying to reduce your carbohydrate intake, so the following are banned during the induction phase.
Avoid: Legumes and starchy vegetables
This includes potatoes, corn, beans, pulses and peas.
Avoid: Grains
So no bread or anything that contains flour, including pasta and rice.
Avoid: Fruit and fruit juices
Fruit is very high in sugars.
Avoid: Alcohol
Contains carbs, and will weaken your resolve!
Avoid: Milk
Very high in carbs.
Avoid: Nuts and seeds (pretty much!)
Only to be avoided during phase one, and this is only because portioning is difficult to control!

Delicious low carb burger
Hamburger with low carb burger buns, see the recipe on the page with low carb burger buns.

How to use the Atkins Diet food list

So now you have a list of the foods you are allowed to eat in phase 1 of the new Atkins diet plan. But how do you use this list on a day-to-day basis?
Well, I have a print out that I keep in my purse (in fact I have several print-outs, one in the car, one at work, one in my kitchen- you get the picture, I find my life works a lot better when I use a list!), so when I’m at the food store I can refer to my food list and make sure that I only buy foods I can eat.
Making yourself a grocery list before you go shopping is also one of my quick weight loss tips, it stops you from impulse buying all the junk that you don’t really need – there are no junk foods on the Atkins   list! You can find more quick weight loss tips on this page.
If you’ve used the list, you should now be the proud possessor of a refrigerator full of foods you can eat, all you have to do is plan your menu from the diet food list.
What works for me is planning a whole weeks’ worth of meals in advance. This way I tally up the net carbs as I go along using the food list, so each day only adds up to 20g in total, 15g of this being from the salad and vegetable list. Then I know I’m not going to accidentally go over my net carb allowance, preparation is another of my quick weight loss tips.
Just so as to be absolutely crystal clear about how the food list works, I’ve given you an example of a typical day’s Atkins diet menu during phase one.


Fried bacon and eggs, 35 g mushrooms fried in butter (net carbs 1.2 g), one grilled tomato (net carbs 4.3 g)

Mid morning snack

Basil and coriander omelet with 56 g grated Emmental cheese (net carbs 2 g)


Fried chicken strips, 25 g cucumber (net carbs 0.5 g), 35 g iceberg lettuce (net carbs 1.25 g), two tablespoons blue cheese dressing (net carbs 2.3 g)

Afternoon snack

Bowl of cold, cooked prawns which have been fried in garlic butter made with one clove of garlic (net carbs 0.9 g)

Evening meal

Rib eye steak, 80 g boiled spaghetti squash (net carbs 4 g), stir fry made from 70 g bok choy (net carbs 0.8 g), 60 g bamboo shoots (net carbs 1.1 g), one clove garlic (net carbs 0.9 g) and a dash of sugar free soy sauce
Total net carbs from the foundation Atkins diet food list = 14.95 g, plus 4.3 g of other net carbs, making a total of 19.25 g of net carbs – perfect!
You see? It’s easy using the list you can keep track of all your net carbs and fill up on high protein, carb free foods.
If you don’t plan ahead then make sure you write down what you’ve had as you eat it– it’s too easy to forget what has passed your lips when you sit down in the evening trying to recall all you’ve eaten during the day. Your brain will try to dupe you! The Atkins food list won’t.

Following a high protein diet plan

When you follow a high protein diet plan like the new Atkins diet, it makes you feel fuller and more satisfied for longer, so including as many high protein foods from the  list as you can in your new Atkins diet menu will ensure you won’t feel hungry and so keep reaching for the fast-fix sugary snacks.
All unprocessed meats are high in protein and should form the basis of every meal, you just don’t feel hungry when you are on this diet!
And I know how hunger can so easily break a diet. I’ve been on other weight loss plans and diets before and have gone to bed so hungry my stomach has ached, and I’ve felt so tired and run down that I just can’t sustain the diet plan. I would crack and start eating unhealthily again.
With the Atkins it is the high protein foods and fat that stops the hunger pains.

Can I eat unlimited amounts of food from the Atkins list?

At first, I thought Great!
I can eat as much meat as I want, and I would stack my plate with as much  meat as possible – fried chicken, juicy steaks and prawns covered in mayonnaise (yum!), but it soon became obvious that I simply didn’t need that much food to make me feel full.
I was satisfied with a much smaller portion. I wasn’t hungry all day and so I stopped thinking about food all day – the Atkins diet menu helped me break this cycle.

Can I eat any carbs at all on the Atkins diet plan?

In answer to all you carb junkies, yes you can.
The Atkins food list shows quite clearly that you can eat carbs – they are just moderated.
So don’t go believing people when they say you won’t ever eat carbs again, they obviously don’t understand that there is a low carb food list, or the four phase program where you get to reintroduce carbohydrate in a controlled manner.

Low carb food list options?

The Atkins diet food list is your food bible for low carb options. Use the food list and the Atkins carb counter to pick low carb foods, or use Atkins products like the one listed below and on these pages.

Low carb Atkins products to make your life easier

There are a whole host of Atkins products available to buy. Try the handy Atkins bars, you can carry these around with you in case of emergencies!
There are also Atkins shakes that are only a few net carbs each.
So if you don’t have time to prepare snacks, or you are working late at the office, then these snacks can fill that gap, and also help to satisfy any sweet cravings you may be having. Take at look at the Atkins products for some great options.

List of foods to eat when you are out

The invite arrives in your mailbox. Your heart sinks, you’ve been invited out for a meal, and you’ve been so good at sticking to your diet, you’ve started to lose weight and you fear that a night out will undo all of the good work.
Well, don’t panic, on the Atkins diet this is a scenario you don’t need to fear, there is no need to become a recluse. Go on, get out and enjoy yourself – just remember to be food smart.

Being food smart

If it’s going to be a boozy night then offer to drive, you won’t then be tempted by the high carb alcoholic drinks (or empty calories as we call them in my house).
If you can study the menu before you go out, and most places have their menus online these days, then you can plan your meal in advance.
When you are out don’t be afraid to ask the waiter or waitress if they can serve your meal without fries or potatoes, you’ll find 99% will oblige (if they won’t, take control of your food and remove the offending carbs yourself on to a side-plate – then ignore them or give them to a skinny friend!).
Take a look at this Atkins diet food list for some of the better choices you can make if you are eating out, or thinking of entertaining at home.


– don’t eat the garnish!
Generally prawn marie-rose (prawn cocktail) is good high fat, high protein option. Pate is another, although don’t eat the bread or toast it may be served with.
Potted meats and shrimps are a luxury you can enjoy without feeling guilty. A popular meat starter is Buffalo wings (but remember to count the carbs in the sauce if it is not sugar free). Smoked salmon with a dill mayonnaise adds a touch of class to any meal.


– ask for your meal to be served without fries, potatoes, bread, rice, pasta …
Your options are almost limitless. Steak, fish, poultry – any meat! Avoid burgers and sausages unless you know that they are carb free. Monterey Jack chicken is one of my favorite choices!


– avoid any sugary desserts, make a selection from the cheese board instead (eat in moderation remembering to count the net carbs).
If I’m entertaining, I serve meringues made with egg whites and Splenda and a spoon of whipped cream.
And there is always room for a coffee made with single cream to finish.

Is this an easy weight loss diet?

If you stick to the food list then it’s easy. I mentioned earlier that I’ve tried other diets for quick weight loss, I’ve fed myself natural weight loss supplements, I’ve spent my whole day juicing for weight loss and I’ve lived on weight loss shakes.
To be fair, these diets have all worked with varying degrees of success, but I found I couldn’t sustain them in the long term.
The Atkins diet is more than just a no carb diet, it’s a way of life.
I’m no longer wondering if I will achieve better weight loss through hypnosis or by eating only grapefruit.
All I need is my diet list when I’m shopping and a few easy weight loss tips to see me through. On occasions, when life really gets in the way I’ve had to follow a modified Atkins diet (see more about this here), but I’ve still succeeded.
Now I’m lighter, more fun to be around and I’ve got so much more energy. I’ve even taken up running for weight loss as well! That would have been impossible before I started the Atkins diet plan.
The old me would simply not recognize the new me.

Go for it – what have you got to lose?

It’s such an easy weight loss diet. Don’t be put off by all the net carb counting, it does become second nature after a while. I know people who have lost up to 15 pounds during the induction period, so don’t give up! You will experience your fastest and most impressive weight loss during phase one, and after this it will slow to a steady and sustainable weight loss.
A healthy weight loss is in the region of two pounds a week, and is very achievable if you stick with the program.
Most of all just remember, if you cheat, you are only cheating yourself. So stick with it, try it out for a couple of weeks – all you’ve got to lose is your unwanted fat.
Here is a very interesting video made by a young woman who has been overweight, an emotional eater, and has now by following a slow carb diet for the first time in her life managed to loose almost all the unneeded pounds:

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