The Atkins Diet:
The 4 Phases of the ANA

Let's go over the four phases of the Atkins diet in greater detail.

Phase 1--Induction

The most restrictive phase. You're limited to a maximum of 20 grams "net" carbs per day. Many who enter Induction will eventually switch over to a ketogenic metabolism.

Recommended foods for Phase 1:

  • certain veggies (e.g. cruciferous veggies like broccoli and brussel sprouts)
  • cheeses and some dairy products
  • ANA approved Splenda-sweetened snacks
  • almost all meat and fish and other proteins
  • all manner of fats, including saturated fats
  • lots of water--8 glasses a day is recommended

Partial list of what is verboten on this phase:

  • pasta
  • rice
  • bread
  • potatoes
  • sugars
  • trans-fats
  • most fruits and nuts
  • meats with lots of added sugars or preservatives
  • most alcohol

Phase 2--Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL)

OWL involves slightly increasing the amount of carbs in the diet by about 5 net grams extra per week. The goal is to locate your individual Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing number. Due to variations among people, everyone's "CCLL" is different. The idea is to stay at the OWL stage, adding 5 net carbs more each week, until you've reached the threshold at which you’re neither gaining nor losing.

While in OWL, you are encouraged to enjoy a more diverse repertoire of foods, including:

  • almonds
  • pistachios
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • cantaloupe
  • more Atkins shakes and snacks

Phase 3--Pre-Maintenance

According to theory, as you keep adding net carbs back into your diet, your weight loss will eventually taper off to zero. The balance point at which this happens is known as the Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium also known as the ACE.

During Phase 3, you aim to get to your ACE by weaving previously restricted carbohydrates back into your diet, such as:

  • whole grains and legumes
  • yams
  • acorn squash
  • lima beans
  • watermelon
  • whole-wheat pasta
  • bananas
If at this stage you start to gain weight again, you can always backtrack to either OWL or Induction.

Phase 4--Lifetime Maintenance

The life goal is essentially to hew close to your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium. Depending on variations in your metabolism and other factors, your weight should likely swing a few pounds in both directions from your balance point. But if you ever fall off the wagon, you can always double back to one the more carb restrictive phases of the Atkins diet to get yourself back down to a healthy weight.

Return from The Atkins Diet to Diet Plans

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