The Atkins Diet Meal Plans in Stages

The Atkins diet works by using certain meal plans that change over a period of time. Atkins diet meal plans vary, but they are generally based on the premise that carbohydrates are a "no-no." The first two weeks are the induction period, and this is probably the hardest stage for dieters to get through. The idea is to kick start the metabolism by eating high protein and fatty foods while limiting carbohydrates. Dr. Atkins himself claimed that eating too many carbohydrates can cause an overproduction of insulin, which in turn leads to increased hunger, more frequent eating and resulting weight gain. For the first two weeks only 20 grams of carbohydrates are allowed, yet the diet allows a nearly unlimited supply of meat, poultry, fish, eggs and cheese. Milk, fruit, cereals, breads and vegetables with a high glycemic index are not allowed. The carbohydrates allowance usually comes from cheese, green leaves and vegetables.

The second stage of the Atkins diet uses meal plans allows 25 grams of carbohydrates, and the long-term stages of the Atkins diet, the pre-maintenance and maintenance stages, generally aim for a long-term diet that allows 40-75 grams of carbohydrates a day. The Atkins diet is said to use meal plans that decrease hunger and food cravings because the body uses carbohydrates for energy. If carbohydrates are not available, the body breaks down stored fat for energy and produces a by-product in the body called ketones. Ketones suppress the appetite effectively, but they can also cause side-affects. Regardless of which stage of the Atkins diet you are on, meal plans should not include alcohol or caffeinated drinks, potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.

Atkins Diet Induction Stage Meal Plan Options

If you can get through the first two weeks of the Atkins diet with meal plans consisting of only 20 grams of carbohydrates a day, the rest of the diet should be a breeze, since there are fewer restrictions as the stages progress. Breakfast in the induction stage can consist of scrambled eggs and bacon, and lunch can be a piece of fish with two cups of green salad in an olive oil and vinegar dressing. Dinner could include roasted chicken with a cup of green vegetables topped with cheese. A snack might consist of olives and cheese or one of the many low-carb Atkins snack foods on the market.

There are also many Atkins diet meal plans available that consist of Atkins-brand, low-carb food. For the following three stages of the Atkins diet, meal plans can use foods like specially designed low-carbohydrate cereals, bagels and pasta. Even popular chocolate treats now have low carbohydrate options that do not taste exactly the same, but will still feel like they are not being denied to the Atkins dieter.