Four Phases of Atkins:

The Atkins Nutritional Approach™ (ANA) is an easy-to-follow four-phase program. Initially, you cut back significantly on carb intake to lose weight; then you gradually add back a variety of “good” carbs as you get closer to your goal weight. Once you reach your goal weight, you will find your individual ACE (Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium), meaning the approximate number of “Net Carbs” you can continue to eat without gaining or losing weight. Changes in your activity level, hormonal status or other factors may raise or lower your ACE. Here’s how to do Atkins properly.

Phase 1 – Induction

We recommend you do the first phase of Atkins for at least two weeks. You will be staying at or below 20 grams of Net Carbs per day. (Carbs such as fiber don’t count in this tally. Eat three meals a day or four or five small meals, if preferred. Don’t skip meals. Eat until you’re satisfied but not stuffed.

  • A sample breakfast might consist of an avocado-tomato omelet and decaf coffee with cream. For lunch you could have a cheeseburger (minus the roll) and a tossed salad. Dinner might include broiled salmon and spinach sautéed with garlic.
  • Foods that combine protein and fat, such as poultry, fish, red meat and eggs, will be the foundation of your meals.
  • Most of your carbs will come from nutrient-dense foods such as leafy green vegetables dressed in olive oil.
  • Take the three Atkins supplements described in the opposite column, or other similar supplements.
  • Drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day to hydrate your body and flush out impurities.
  • Exercise regularly, preferably combining an aerobic activity such as walking or running with an anaerobic activity such as weight training. Always check with your physician before starting any exercise program.

Phase 2 – Ongoing Weight Loss

Slow your weight loss by gradually increasing your carb intake in increments of 5 grams of Net Carbs. (For example, 6 asparagus spears and half a tomato contain roughly 5 grams of Net Carbs.) Choose your additional carbs wisely, starting with non-starchy vegetables, berries (lower in carbs than other fruits) or Atkins controlled carb alternative foods. Never assume any food is low in carbs; instead, read labels and use a carb gram counter (visit

  • The first week, move up to 25 grams of net Carbs per day.
  • If you continue to lose weight, move to a daily intake of 30 grams of Net Carbs the next week, and so forth until weight loss stops for a few days in a row.
  • Drop back 5 grams and you should continue losing weight slowly. Stay at this level of Net Carbs until you come within 5 to 10 pounds of your target weight.

Phase 3 – Pre-Maintenance

When you get within 5 to 10 pounds of your goal weight, move to Pre-Maintenance. By losing those last few pounds very slowly, you’ll ease yourself into a permanently changed way of eating.

  • Each week, add more grams (as much as 10) of carbs to your daily allotment, going, for example from 50 grams of Net Carbs as day to 60 the next week.
  • As long as you continue to lose at an almost imperceptible rate, gradually introduce other fruits, such as grapefruit, kiwi or melon, whole grains and yams and other starchy vegetables.
  • When you achieve and maintain your goal weight for at least a month, you have found the Net Carb level called your Ace and have effectively moved to the final phase of Atkins.

Phase 4 – Lifetime Maintenance

To maintain your goal weight, stay at your newly found ACE.

  • Your ACE may range from as low as 40 to 120 or more grams of net Carbs daily, depending on your metabolism, age, gender, activity level, or other factors.
  • Continue to follow this healthful and satisfying way of eating and engage in regular exercise for effective weight control.
  • Changes in your activity level, hormonal status or other factors may raise or lower your ACE.
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