The core of your food intake should be protein sources with ample inherent fat. Typically 4 to 6 ozs of meat/fish/poultry would be a portion size for protein in a meal. That's 115 - 175 grams of food, giving you 20 to 35 grams of actual protein content. The smaller weight is appropriate for women while the largest value is appropriate for men of average or above average height. Tall muscular men engaging in strenuous activity may merit an increase to 225 grams of meat etc per meal but Atkins is not a "maximum protein" diet. An alternative guideline is a piece of meat or fish about the size of the palm of your hand.
Acceptable low carb fish, meat & poultry:
(all uncoated except for herbs & spices and not in sauces)
Poultry• Chicken (including skin)
• Cornish Hen
If you find an item that isn't on the list then check the nutritional label - anything that is below 1g of carbohydrate per 100g is going to be fine. The objective is to get your protein without added carbs.
Eggs are a good Atkins food - the right balance of protein and fat without carbs. The list suggests a limit of three a day. If you're having eggs for the protein source in one of your meals three would give you about 18-20g of protein, equivalent to about 110g of meat (depending on size, obviously).
CheeseHard cheese is also good like eggs, a guideline of 4 ozs / 115 grams per day is suggested. That's four individual wrapped portions or four cubes the size of a large dice. Might be worth measuring on the scale to get your eye in as it's easy to overeat. This limit covers the total cheese per day, whether snacks or added into meals.
Cottage cheese and ricotta are not on the phase 1 list due to higher carb content. Also avoid low-fat cheeses, ‘diet’ cheese, ‘cheese products’, whey cheese or any cheese flavoured with fruit. As always, if in doubt look at the label for the carbohydrate content per 100g and aim for 1 or less.
Common low carb cheeses :-
• Blue cheese
• Cream cheese
• Goat’s cheese
• Mozzarella, made with whole-milk
Dairy and substitutes
45ml (1½ oz) daily or a total of 2–3 tablespoons of
• Sour cream
• Single or double cream
Avoid non-dairy creamers as these will contain carbohydrates. Ordinary milk is too high in lactose so this too should be avoided in Phase 1. Some almond, coconut or soya based milk alternatives are low carb and acceptable, but others are sweetened. Read the label carefully looking for added sugar, fruit juice etc and ensure the carbohydrate content is very low, preferably less than 1g per 100ml.
A "milk alternative" to put in your tea or coffee (caffeine is fine on Atkins) can be made by diluting double cream with water in a 10:1 ratio to give a similar fat content to whole milk.
Dietary FatsMost of your fat intake will come from choosing fattier meats and oily fish with a similar number of grams of fat and protein per 100g. Think in terms of 20% fat beef mince not the 5% ultra-lean version, mackerel not cod, and so on. Most "healthy" or "diet" choices are low fat, and Atkins is a diet high in healthy fats.
Add-on fats used for cooking or dressing are fine, typically a tablespoon / 15 ml per serving.
• Butter, hard or whipped (including butter/oil blends)
• Oils including extra virgin/virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil etc.
• Coconut oil
• Full fat mayonnaise (check the label for carbs / sugars)
Other high fat food items
• ½ avocado
• Black or green olives
Phase 1 avoids nuts but later in the plan wthese are a good source of dietary fat too.
Vegetables and SaladsPhase 1 of Atkins aims to get 12-15 grams of carbohydrate per day from vegetables and salad. If you choose appropriate low carb veg that's 300 to 500 grams a day (about a pound) of veg per day, or in other words "Your 12–15g of carbs works out at about 175 g (6 oz) of salad leaves plus 200–300 g (7–11 oz) cooked vegetables."
As this is a UK site this quantity is carbohydrates off the nutritional label and doesn't include fibre. You'll be getting fibre from the veg too, but that's accounted for separately on our labels.
Acceptable low carb vegetables and salads:
Salad leavesAbout 30 g (1 oz) or a big handful of each of raw salad leaves comes in at less than 1g of carbs:
• Bok Choy
• Lettuce, all types
• Sprouts, all kinds
Other Salad Vegetables• Avocados
• Bamboo shoots, tinned
• Olives, black or green
• Gherkins, dill or sour
• Radishes, Daikon
• Spring onions
• Sweet peppers, any colour
• Beans, French,broad, green
• Swiss Chard
Condiments, dressings etc• Celery salt
• Chilli peppers
• Ginger root
• Italian seasoning
• Lemon or orange peel, grated
• Blue cheese dressing
• Caesar salad dressing
• Italian dressing
• Ranch dressing
You can also have up to 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice a day.
You can enjoy any prepared salad dressing that has no added sugar and no more than 3g of carbs per serving (1–2 tablespoons). A better lower-carb option is to make your own vinaigrette with olive oil
plus either vinegar, lemon or lime juice.
All fresh herbs are acceptable in Phase 1 and contain virtually no carbs. Small amounts of dried herbs, including basil, bay leaves, chives, coriander, cumin, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and others, plus salt and pepper are fine as are most spices and spice mixes such as chilli powder and
curry powder. Beware of prepared coating mixes or spice pastes that may contain added sugar.
Non-caloric SweetenersYou can add sweeteners to your low-carb recipes. Count each packet as 1g of carbs, and consume no
more than three per day. Although the sweeteners themselves contain no carbs, the powdered agent that keeps them from clumping has a small amount. Typically a gram of a granular sweetener is 0.9g or more of carbohydrate/
Acceptable low carb sweeteners:
• Splenda or Sweetex (sucralose)
• Truvia (a natural product made from stevia)
• Canderel (a blend of aspartame, acesulfame-k, sucralose and stevia)
• Sweet’n Low (saccharin)
• Xylitol or Erythritol (available in health food shops, online and some supermarkets)
Drinks / beverages• Coffee (caffeinated or decaffeinated, hot or iced) and espresso
• Tea (caffeinated or decaffeinated)
• Herbal teas and infusions without added sugar
• Soda water
• Diet fizzy drinks sweetened with noncaloric sweeteners, such as Diet Coke, Pepsi Max and Diet Lemonade
• Sugar-free tonic water
• Carbonated water – must say ‘no calories’
• Unflavoured soy/almond milk
• Cream – single or double
Thou Shalt Not.....Here's a list of things you'll be avoiding eating on Atkins Phase 1 :-
• Fruit (other than rhubarb, which is really a vegetable).
Avocados, olives, and tomatoes – all of which are actually fruit – are fine, but no sweet fruits.
• Fruit juice (other than 2 tablespoons lemon and/or lime juice a day)
• Caloric fizzy drinks/juice
• Bread, pasta, muffins, tortillas, crisps and any other food made with flour or other grain products, with the exception of low-carb products with 3g of net carbs or less
• Any foods made with added sugar of any sort, including but not limited to pastries, biscuits, cakes, and sweets
• Alcohol in any form
• Nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters, and nut flours or meals, with the exception of flax meal and coconut flour. (Nuts and seeds are okay after two weeks on Phase 1)
• Grains, even wholegrains
• Kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and other pulses
• Starchy vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. Check the Atkins Carb Counter or Supermarket web site if you’re unsure
• Dairy products other than cream, souredcream, single cream and aged cheeses. No cow’s or goat’s milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese,or ricotta for now
• ‘Low-fat’ foods, which are usually higher in carbs
• ‘Diet’ products, unless they specifically state ‘low carbohydrate’ and have no more than 3g of Net Carbs per serving
• ‘Junk food’ in any form
• Products such as chewing gum, breath mints, cough syrups and drops, or liquid vitamins, unless they’re sweetened with sorbitol or xylitol. You can have up to three a day of those. Count 1g of carbs per piece
• Sauces which contain added carbs such as BBQ, cocktail, ketchup, pasta sauces etc.
• Tomato sauce, tinned or stewed tomatoes, tomato purée and tomato paste are all
acceptable in Phase 1, as long as they contain no added sugar