The 4 Phases of the Atkins Diet

Learn about the 4 phases of the Atkins diet, how they work, and the purpose that each phase serves in the weight loss process.

By Megan O'Connell
Edited by Tom Amitay

Published October 15, 2020.

The Atkins Diet is a low-carbohydrate diet that is divided into 4 distinct phases.

Phase 1 – Induction

During the first phase of the Atkins diet, you will need to eat less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day for a 2-week period. This first phase is aimed at kick-starting the weight loss process. During this phase, meals should be high in fat and protein, while limiting carbohydrate intake. Low-carbohydrate vegetables, such as leafy greens, can be consumed with each meal. 

Phase 2 - Balancing

During the second phase of the Atkins diet, you will need to slowly incorporate more nuts, low-carbohydrate vegetables, and small portions of low-carb fruit back into your diet in order to create a more balanced diet and reduce the number of restricted foods.

Phase 3 - Fine-tuning

Once you have lost a fair amount of weight and are close to your goal weight, you will be able to add more carbohydrates back into your diet, up to the point at which your weight loss slows down. Reintroduce carbohydrates in small quantities over a period of time, allowing enough time for your body to adjust to the additional calories. When your weight stabilizes, you'll know you've reached the amount of carbohydrates that is right for your body.

Phase 4 - Maintenance

During this phase of the Atkins diet, you will be able to eat as many healthy carbohydrates as your body can tolerate without regaining any weight. The aim here is to maintain your weight for an extended period of time, neither gaining nor losing weight.

The last phase aims to incorporate the Atkins diet into your daily lifestyle so that you don't feel restricted or limited in your food choices but remain mindful of your nutrition.