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Low Carb Induction Plans: What Can You Eat?
Low carb induction plans will kick start your low carb diet, often resulting in excellent weight loss in the first couple of weeks of your diet. In most cases, you are advised to follow the low carb induction phase for only two weeks. After that, you will begin adding some of the ‘forbidden foods’ into your eating plan in carefully limited quantities.
Low carb induction plans vary from program to program. In this article we will first consider the best known low carb way of eating, the Atkins diet, and then move on to look at some of the other popular low carbohydrate diets.
Atkins Low Carb Induction: What You Can Eat
For the first two weeks of the Atkins diet you can eat:
- Foods that contain zero or minimal carbohydrate, in unlimited quantities. This includes unprocessed meat, fish, seafood, butter and cooking oils. Processed meats like ham, along with anything that comes in a sauce or coating, are not carb-free.
- Low carb foods, in limited quantities. You can have up to 4 oz cheese per day (but not soft cheeses like cottage cheese). You can also have green and low carb vegetables, provided you count the carbs in them (see item 3 below). Low carb vegetables include mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, eggplant as well as most green veggies. Avocado is limited to half an avocado per day. Eggs can be eaten but they contain some carbohydrate which must be counted, as does heavy cream (limited to 2-3 tbsp per day).
- Whatever you eat, you must count the grams of carbohydrate in each food and ensure that you do not exceed 20 grams per day. Over 50% of your carbohydrate must come from vegetables. The easiest way to track this is to use an online food diary site such as fitday.com or through an app on your phone.
Atkins Low Carb Induction: What You Cannot Eat
In brief, you cannot eat anything that is not on the list of allowed induction foods. This includes milk as well as starchy vegetables like potatoes, carrots, peas and beans, corn, parsnips, pumpkins and squashes. You will add these back into your diet in the next phase.
Other Low Carb Induction Plans
- The South Beach Diet: The South Beach Diet allows more carbohydrate and less saturated fat than Atkins. So you are limited to lean or skinless cuts of meat, but you can have some milk, nuts and beans even in the induction phase. This is an easier plan for vegetarians to follow.
- The Dukan Diet: This diet plan, designed by French doctor Pierre Dukan, is an extremely low carbohydrate eating plan that is also low in fat. It is very high in protein and does not suit everybody. We recommend that you do not attempt a diet like this without taking advice from a health professional.
In the induction phase of the Dukan diet (which only lasts 5 days for most people) you eat nothing but lean, skinless meat, fat-free dairy (including skim milk), eggs, tofu, fish and a small amount of oat bran. No vegetables at all.
Ending Low Carb Induction
In most cases, as we said above, the induction phase is followed for the first two weeks only. Occasionally, you can follow a low carb induction program for a longer time. You are advised to consult with a doctor before doing this, or before following any diet plan if you have health issues.
Keep in mind that you will not necessarily lose more weight by staying in the induction phase for longer.
For most people, it is better to move to the next phase of the diet after two weeks so that you learn to manage a greater choice of foods. This will prepare you better for remaining on a healthy eating plan the majority of the time after you have lost the weight, so that you do not gain it back. Low carb induction is great for starting your diet but it is not a plan that anybody could follow for life.