The Atkins Diet is a low carbohydrate meal plan that fires up your metabolism and turns your body into a “fat-burning machine.”
Your body turns carbohydrates into glucose, which enters the blood stream and raises your blood glucose level. The hormone insulin stabilizes the glucose and that creates a cycle of your blood sugar yo-yoing, which makes you hungry and crave more carbohydrates. The body doesn’t store more than a half-day supply of energy from glucose, so if you eat more carbohydrates than can be used, your body stores it as fat, even if you're limiting your daily caloric intake. When you eat carbs that metabolize slowly, you have more energy.
How the Atkins Diet Works
Phase 1—Induction Phase: Induction is the Atkins Diet launch phase. The objectives of Induction are to kick-start your weight loss and to switch your body from burning glucose to burning fat. When you’re in Phase 1, you consume a maximum of 20 net carbs per day. While the Induction Phase is intended to last two weeks, you can stay in this phase as long as you like.
Phase 2—Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL): In Phase 2 you learn how to gradually increase your net carbs to add variety to your diet while still losing weight. You continue with OWL until you’re within 10 pounds of your goal.
Phase 3—Pre-maintenance: By the time you’ve reached Phase 3 you’ve learned what you can eat to lose weight and at this phase, you continue to lose by learning your tolerance for carbohydrates. The objective is to lose the last 10 pounds slowly while you learn a permanent way of eating. Losing the last bit of weight slowly helps ensure that you keep it off.
Phase 4—The Atkins Diet Lifetime Maintenance Phase: Phase 4 is where you begin your new life at your goal weight. By this time, eating well has become your lifestyle and all you need to do is commit to being in charge of what you eat for the rest of your life.
1. Phase 1 Quick Lunch Ideas
Phase 1 concentrates on getting protein and healthy complex carbohydrates in your diet.
- Top a slice of ham with a lettuce leaf and 1 ounce of blue cheese. Roll up and enjoy.
- Stir mayonnaise into water-packed tuna and make sandwiches using sliced cucumber and zucchini instead of bread.
2. Phase 2 Quick Lunch Ideas
In Phase 2 you can add low-carb dairy.
- Top slices of salami with tomato. Add a bit of dried or fresh oregano and finish with 5-ounces of mozzarella cheese. Microwave until bubbly.
- Crumble a couple of strips of microwave bacon and 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese over 1 cup of pre-packaged lettuce. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
3. Phase 3 Quick Lunch Ideas
Phase 3 adds more variety. In this phase you can have legumes, grains and a wider variety of fruits.
- Stir 2-tablespoons of pico de gallo and 1/2 cup of black beans into 1/2 cup of chicken or beef broth for a quick and zesty bean soup.
4. Phase 4 Quick Lunch Ideas
- Sprinkle packaged or canned salmon with a bit of dried dill and soy sauce. Serve with 1/2 cup of brown rice.