Protein FoodsMost protein foods, such as meat, seafood and eggs, have little or no carbohydrate. However, there are some things to watch out for. Check out these tips on protein foods on a low carb diet for details.
VegetablesThe bulk of the carbohydrate in the diet comes from vegetables. It is important to know the carbohydrate counts of the vegetables you are eating. Twelve to 15 grams per day (not counting fiber) should come from vegetables.
CheesesMost cheeses have less than a gram of carbohydrate per ounce, but check labels carefully, as some have more. Atkins allows 3-4 ounces per day during induction. Cream cheese included, but specifically not cottage cheese, farmer's cheese, or other fresh cheeses.
Fats and OilsPeople embarking on the Atkins eating plan are cautioned not to attempt to do a low-fat version of the diet. Adequate fat content is vital to the success of the diet. Atkins advises eating a balance of natural fats, and no trans fats at all. Here are some of the things Atkins says about fats and oils:
- Eat plenty of cold-water fish and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (but if pregnant be aware of FDA guidelines about fish consumption).
- Olive oil, especially those labeled virgin or extra-virgin, should be emphasized.
- For stir-frying, canola, peanut, and grapeseed oil are recommended, especially if "cold-pressed" or "expeller-pressed".
- Avoid corn, soy, safflower, and sunflower oil except in small amounts, and not heated (these have high amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fat). Again, cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils are recommended. [Note from Laura: sunflower and safflower oils are now available made from seeds bred to have high levels of monounsaturated fat, and low levels of polyunsaturated Omega-6 fats. These are usually labeled "high oleic".]
- When choosing mayonnaise, choose regular full-fat mayonnaise, preferably using the guidelines above for types of oils used.
- When choosing salad dressings, the same rules apply, and watch for added sugars.
- Butter and other sources of saturated fat (e.g. coconut) are acceptable, but again should be eaten in balance with other fats.
- Don't use margarine unless it is trans-fat-free.
BeveragesWater is the vastly preferred beverage. Atkins advises eight 8-oz glasses per day. If you are hungry and it isn't a mealtime, try drinking water first -- you might just be thirsty. Soda water or carbonated water with sugar-free flavorings are okay.
Do not drink any beverage with sugar in it, including juice and cider. Herbal teas, or decaffeinated coffee or tea are good choices, although some people can get away with drinking caffeine (you have to experiment to see if it triggers cravings or slows weight loss). Diet sodas sweetened with sucralose (Splenda) are acceptable. Clear broths are usually very low in carbs (but, as always, read labels).
Special Additional FoodsSmall daily amounts of the following foods can be added (count the carbs, however):
- 2-3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice
- 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream or one ounce of sour cream
- 10-20 olives
- Half a small avocado
- Controlled-carb convenience foods, such as low carb snack bars